by Aziza Uko
This week, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, took its partnership with world leading football club, Chelsea FC to a new level, setting the pace in corporate social responsibility with the finale of the Dream the Blues Campaign which began on May 14, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.
In January 2013, the global giant launched the Dream the Blues Campaign in seven countries – Brazil, China, Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, and Thailand targeted at touching the lives of football loving children. Chelsea Foundation coaches visited each country meeting with, training and inspiring 1,400 football loving children, two were selected in each country to attend the finale of the campaign which came to a resounding end yesterday, May 20, 2013.
Nigeria was represented by two extra-ordinary boys, Jep Mallam (9) under the care of the SOS Village in Abuja and Moses Magnut (13) under the care of Compassionate Orphanage in Lagos. (You can read about the boys by clicking on their names above) These two boys, along with the ten other young players who made it to London, in many ways expressed the spirit of the Dream the Blues Campaign which is the spirit of friendship and dreaming big and never giving up, because dreams do come true.
“Samsung believes in supporting and motivating youths to discover and expand possibilities for themselves. We hope this camp in London to be a meaning step and a great opportunity for the participants to come closer to their dreams,” said Yung Kook Lee, Vice President and Head of Global Sports Marketing at Samsung heading into the week.
The Dream the Blues finale, loaded with excitement and possibilities, kick started with an opening dinner where the kids flew their nations’ flags, met Steve Winnet and Oliver Woodall, the Chelsea FC Foundation coaches they would be training with while at the Blues Camp at Cobham. The kids took part in some bonding exercises and tried out some football stunts led by Francis Vu, a football enthusiast and MC of the event. The dinner set the pace for what was to be an exhilarating week.
The next day, the kids watched in awe at the Hilton Cobham, with high expectations, cheering their heroes as Chelsea won the UEFA Europa League and took home the trophy in Amsterdam. In addition to training at the same facility where the Chelsea stars train, the boys were taken on an exclusive tour of the home of Chelsea FC, Stamford Bridge where they walked in the steps of their heroes.
The highlight of the entire week was when the Chelsea players and Dream the Blues ambassadors, Fernando Torres, Victor Moses, Oscar, and Juan Mata, met with the children on the training pitch, held mentoring sessions, and trained with them. “My life has changed forever, I know now, for sure that all my dreams can come true, I will never forget this moment,” Nigerian Moses Magnut said excitedly, until this time, the reserved 13-year-old, who stands a head above his peers had not spoken.
Meeting Torres, Moses, Oscar, and Mata appeared to have given the 12 boys, who by this time had been named the Dream the Blues Samsung-Chelsea FC the needed inspiration to face the Chelsea Foundation youth team and beat them in a set of 2 matches which held that evening, to the delight of their parents and chaperons, their biggest fans.
It wasn’t all football. The kids were at the Lyceum Theatre in London where they watched a stage production of the Lion King, they enjoyed a private capsule rotation on the breath-taking London Eye, toured London viewing the city’s historic sites, and were treated to the finest of London cuisine.
On Sunday evening, the Dream the Blues kids got pitch-side seats at Stamford Bridge as they watched the Premiership League match between Chelsea and Everton end 2:1 scored by their heroes Mata and Torres. That evening, the closing dinner was held at the London Museum’s Ironmongers Hall, an iconic building with a rich history, the location where some of the scenes of the Harry Potter movies was filmed.
The event was enlivened with the magic of Paul Roffman, whose skill, dexterity, close-up, and personal presentation brought a special touch to the dinner which saw an emotional parting speech by Steve Winnet, Chelsea Foundation Coach, “At the opening dinner, this was the moment, I dreaded, when I would have to say good bye. You all have touched my life in a special way.”
Just as Winnet, finished his speech, fighting back tears, one of kids shouted, “I love you, coach!”, echoing the feelings of all 11 of his new friends, made possible by a global giant, Samsung, with an even bigger heart.
So, it was that the dinner brought a magical end to a magical week.
YNaija was in London to cover this event courtesy of Samsung Electronics West AfricaFollow us on Twitter @YNaija