Footie pundit swaps microphone for a game on the field

Graham Galbraith

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HE’S usually on the sidelines of the Premier League’s finest games, but football pundit Chris Kamara traded the cameras of Sky Sports for a school bib and a kick-around in the playground in his old stomping ground.

Youngsters at Cottage Grove Primary School in Southsea were in their element as they challenged one of Pompey’s biggest stars to a match.

HE'S A STAR Chris Kamara at Cottage Grove School.     Pictures: Allan Hutchings (111172-168)

HE'S A STAR Chris Kamara at Cottage Grove School. Pictures: Allan Hutchings (111172-168)

The game was part of the £2m initiative, Home Team Heroes – run by npower and the Football League Trust – to teach kids the value of respect and followed a workshop and question and answer session with the legend.

Kamara, 53, who started his footballing career with Pompey, said: ‘I’ve really been impressed with the standard of the kids here and feel as I’m getting old when they’re all running round me like they were during the match.

‘It was really enjoyable and it’s great to be able to give something back.

‘Being here and seeing the characters and personalities of the young kids and realising that I can help them, even if it’s only in a small way, has just been fantastic.’

ON FORM Left Chris Kamara show of his skills.    (111172-939)

ON FORM Left Chris Kamara show of his skills. (111172-939)

The workshop – led by Pompey Sports and Education Foundation workers – was the first of 28 that will take place in schools across the city, and proved a hit with the children.

Year six pupil Chloe Andrews, 11, said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed playing alongside Chris and all my classmates.’

Tanatswa Kanjanda, 10, agreed. He said: ‘The best bits were playing with Chris, scoring some goals and teaching him a couple of tricks.’

Pompey fans were given the choice between three community programmes – workshops focusing on respect, coaching or the refurbishment of a playground, and could vote online.

Respect sailed well above the others and Cottage Grove Primary School placed the most votes, which is why it were selected for the launch.

Dave Edmundson, general manager of the Football League Trust, said: ‘We know from our experiences of the last 20 years what an impact engaging with people in this way can make. Respect is something which is needed throughout every avenue of life – this programme will benefit not only those involved, but the wider community.’

Home Team Heroes will run throughout England and Wales’ 72 Football League clubs for the course of npower’s three-year sponsorship.