SINGAPORE - It is every kid's dream to meet their favourite players and 65 of them were treated to a kickabout with the stars of English Premier League giants Arsenal at the Emirates Football Clinic on Friday afternoon.
Young fans aged from six to 12 turned up despite the blistering heat at the Jalan Besar Stadium where they did football drills, learnt new skills and - best of all - played with eight Gunners Santi Cazorla, Petr Cech, Kieran Gibbs, Chuba Akpom, Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Mesut Oezil and Laurent Koscielny.
There were four groups, where the children were split according to their age group and two of the eight Gunners would participate with them in passing drills, dribbling drills and to cap off the event, a scrimmage.
"You're always happy when you meet children because they enjoy it," centre-back Koscielny said. "We were children before and I wanted the opportunity to play with professional players but I didn't have that. Now I have the chance to give that back and so I do."
After the game, the children were given the special chance to get their jerseys signed by the players and to take photos with their favourite players.
"It's a really fun event where you get to see professional players, and it's not often that you get to meet them," Alexander Kunalan, 11 said. "I got to play with Oezil and Mertesacker, who was fun and taught us a lot."
The Straits Times partnered Emirates Airline in offering 40 kids a chance to participate in this clinic. All their parents had to do was tell us why their child will be the next Arsenal superstar.
"We do this wherever we go with Arsenal as it connects the fans to the team," Stuart Priestly, the manager of sponsorship at Emirates, said. "The FAS (Football Association of Singapore) gave a great standard of delivery with the logistic operations which helped a lot. It's always nice to put a smile on the kids' faces."
The Arsenal first team are in Singapore to participate in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy tournament. After dispatching a Singapore Selection 4-0, they will play Everton in the final on Saturday.