Everton defender Leighton Baines returned to his old primary school in Kirkby today to donate £1,000 worth of football kit and training gear as part of the Premier League Players' Kit Scheme.
The England international, who this week was named in the Premier League Team of the Year, visited St Joseph The Worker Catholic Primary School as part of an initiative launched by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) to boost the sport at grassroots level.
Baines surprised pupils by turning up to a special training session, which was being delivered by coaches from the Club’s official charity, Everton in the Community, and offered the youngsters tips and advice about the game before taking part in a question and answer session.
Speaking about the donation, Leighton, who is Everton in the Community’s player ambassador for giving, said: “I was delighted to make this donation to St Joseph’s. It was great to come back and meet the kids and see some of my former teachers!
“It’s really important that as players we give back to the local community and invest in the future. Watching the young people enjoying the coaching session in their new kit was a really special moment and I’m glad I was able to help out.”
The initiative is providing Under-16 clubs, schools and youth organisations in England and Wales with free football kit and equipment. The squads of all 20 top-flight clubs have donated £25,000, ensuring the big pot of £500,000 to help grassroots of football.
Christine Gordon, headteacher of St Joseph’s, said: “We would like to thank Leighton for this donation and Everton Football Club for their support. It was lovely having Leighton back at school and the children thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I often talk about Leighton in assembly as he is an excellent role model and inspiration for our pupils. He is a perfect example that if you work hard and always try your best you can achieve your dreams.”
The Premier League is once again accepting applications for the Premier League Players' Kit Scheme and teams can apply at premierleague.com.