Pupils at John Bramston Primary School were in for a surprise when Liam Payne and Sir Mo Farah walked through the doors on Monday 16 May to take part in their Soccer Aid Schools Challenge.

Liam Payne and Mo Farah visit a school in London to take part in the Soccer Aid Schools Challenge
Liam Payne and Mo Farah visit a school in London to take part in the Soccer Aid Schools Challenge

The nation-wide challenge returns this year and after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and involves primary and secondary pupils designing a fun obstacle course to take on together, whilst raising money to help UNICEF’s work for children around the world.

Liam Payne and Sir Mo Farah spent the morning leading teams of pupils, who went head-to-head on an obstacle course which included sprints, pick-ups and penalty shoot outs to complete the Soccer Aid inspired course.

Captain of the England team, Liam Payne said: I’m delighted to be taking part in The Soccer Aid Schools Challenge with the children at John Bramston today. It was lovely to see the school come together to fundraise for such a good cause – the children were full of energy and thanks to my Soccer Aid training I just about managed to keep up with them!"

Fellow England player, Sir Mo Farah said: "It was fantastic to be at the school today, my team and I had a great time taking on the obstacle course – which fortunately, for Liam’s team didn’t involve any long-distance running!

“The Soccer Aid Schools Challenge is fun to do and for such a great cause that I would urge other schools to sign-up at socceraid.org.uk/schools. I wish all the schools taking part in the Schools Challenge the best of luck with their fundraising.”

Headteacher, Melanie Dye, said "As a school, John Bramston wholly embraces and is fully committed to UNICEF as a GOLD Rights Respecting School. This was an incredibly exciting opportunity for our pupils.

“Supporting and actively participating in such a worthwhile cause as Soccer Aid, enables our pupils to demonstrate their commitment to raising money to help disadvantaged children around the world and at the same time – have fun!

“We are delighted to have had first-hand experience to meet and be part of this fundraising event with such incredible icons as Sir Mo Farah and Liam Payne. This will be a lasting memory for all our pupils and staff. It affirms our ethos and vision of why we do what we do.”

All classes at the school are named after British icons, one of which happens to be called the Sir Mo Farah class. Mo Farah took time out of the day for a special visit to the classroom.

The Soccer Aid Schools Challenge is a fundraising event, open to children of all ages and abilities. Pupils can bring in £1 to take part, get parents to sponsor them or hold a bake sale to help reach their fundraising target. By getting schools all across the country dribbling, kicking and bouncing footballs across playgrounds, they are helping children everywhere have the playtimes they deserve.

There’s never been a more challenging time for children. Right now, children are facing war, disasters and other crises in countries around the world. And it is children that are often hardest hit – like the 7.5 million children currently affected by the war in Ukraine. These children risk losing their homes, their families and their schools. They lose the ability to just be kids.

Soccer Aid for UNICEF is the biggest celebrity football match in the world. Since 2006, when UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams co-founded the concept, Soccer Aid for UNICEF has raised over £60 million to help give children all over the world a childhood full of play.

The England vs. Soccer Aid World XI FC match is due to take place at the London Stadium on Sunday 12 June and will air live on ITV and STV. However, schools across the UK can kick off their Soccer Aid Schools Challenge any time from now until the end of June.

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