Eden Hazard has kicked off Chelsea’s latest Asian Star initiative.
The Blues playmaker was joined by youngsters from Southall FC for a coaching session before posing for photos and signing autographs to launch the ground-breaking scheme.
The event marked the beginning of the sixth Asian Star programme, which is the first scheme of its kind ever undertaken by a professional football club and is designed to give a much-needed boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game.
“It’s great to be involved in the Asian Star programme, as football is for everyone,” said Hazard.
“The programme has been a success for many years now and is a fantastic way of creating opportunities that otherwise might not be available to these children.
“I was delighted to come and join these children as I know how important it is that the club give something back to the community and hopefully this has put a smile on their faces.”
Asian Star 2014 will take place on Monday 5 May at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham, with places available for players aged 9-12.
Participants will be judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea academy to examine speed, skill and ability.
Chelsea will also be inviting managers, coaches and scouts from clubs at all levels of the game to identify talented youngsters and information will also be on hand for Asian players to find clubs in their area.
The Asian Star programme has already uncovered seven potential stars of the future who have gone on to play for professional clubs’ academies, while winners in each age group are invited to join the Chelsea Foundation’s Football Development Centres.
Emma Wilkinson, Chelsea’s head of communications and community affairs, said: “Asian Star has been a huge success over the last five years and we hope the sixth will be the best yet.
“Over that time we’ve seen former winners go on to play for professional club academies and we hope many more have been inspired to take their football further.
“The scheme is all about fun, enjoyment and inspiration. It’s about showing that football is providing opportunities for players from all backgrounds and that the game is open to everyone.”