Spanish winger Sergi Canós and French defender Yoann Barbet took part in a unique coaching session at Ealing Fields High School yesterday.
To the delight and awe of the pupils, the duo ran the football session entirely in French and Spanish, showcasing their talents as they taught their pupils both new football and language skills. The event was held to mark the European Day of Languages, which celebrates the 200 languages spoken in Europe.
“Dribbler comme Maupey” and “zigzag hasta el otro cono y hacer un pase a su compañero” were just some of the French and Spanish phrases uttered as the Championship players coached the youngsters during the football session.
And after the football session, the pupils’ linguistic skills were tested – quizzing the players in a mock bi-lingual press conference. Acting as journalists, the pupils asked the players what food they liked and the cultural differences of living in the UK.
Commenting on the pupils’ language skills, Sergi Canos said: “I was very impressed with the level of Spanish spoken today; when I was that age I could speak hardly any English.”
Yoann Barbet agreed, he said: “We are here to show young people the importance of learning another language. It has certainly helped me in my football career and it can help these pupils in the wider world.”
The pupils were also put through their paces as they learnt key football phrases such as ‘red card’ and ‘free kick’ in French and Spanish.
13-year-old Hawa, who took part in the session, felt that learning a foreign language had an important purpose, she said: “If you go to a foreign country and if you have basic level of French and Spanish it can make such a difference to your visit.”
Ben Bird, Head of Modern Languages at Ealing Fields, said: “We are delighted that Yoann and Sergi were able to visit us as part of our European Day of Languages celebrations. It is exciting that our students are able to see how foreign languages can really play an integral part in their futures.
“It is often difficult to get students motivated by foreign languages, but an event like this can really inspire pupils.”
The event was part of the wider community work of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust – helping thousands of school children become active and live healthier lifestyles.
Lee Doyle, Chief Executive of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: “The session at Ealing Fields High School is an example of how we try and be innovative both on and off the field. It was delivered by Trust’s coaches and Brentford players – combining physical activity with languages. Today, we certainly inspired young people to enjoy sport and reach higher levels of educational attainment.”