Chelsea legend Tore Andre Flo was on hand to support the seventh instalment of Chelsea’s Asian Star which proved a big hit on Bank Holiday Monday.
Designed to increase Asian participation at all levels, the initiative saw more than 300 young Asian players tested to examine speed, skill and ability at the Blues’ Cobham training base with the winners invited to join the Chelsea Foundation’s Football Development Centres.
Flo played for Chelsea between 1997-2000 but now works at the West London side’s academy and was impressed with the event, which is the first to be undertaken by a professional football club.
“It must be a great day for the children, coming here to Cobham and using these facilities," he said.
“It’s great for the club to be involved in a project like this. Chelsea are involved in a lot of great things, including trying to develop grassroots football and most of all allowing children to enjoy themselves.
“I’m really proud to work for Chelsea Football Club. They are doing a great job with grassroots football especially with events like Asian Star.”
Nyan Mesuria was the winner of the Under-12 age group and said: “It’s a nice feeling. I really enjoyed the testing and the training ground is really nice.”
Chelsea’s academy has come under scrutiny recently despite retaining the FA Youth Cup against Manchester City under a month ago. With an obviously talented group, a pathway to the first team has yet to be fully recognised in the Roman Abramovich era.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is highly regarded at the club and made his first start against Liverpool two weeks ago.
However, the Asian Star programme is a great way of sourcing talent and providing opportunities and could prove successful in the long run for manager Jose Mourinho.