Team captain Clarke and first year professional Nikolaou took time out to spend an afternoon at Aldersbook Primary School in Wanstead.
The two O’s players met the newly formed Key Stage 1 football team and presented the players with certificates and trophy for winning the first tournament they had ever entered!
The O’s pair then spent time with some year 5 and 6 pupils, most of whom are also part of the year six-football team for Aldersbrook. They spoke about what it is like being a professional footballer and the pupils asked a number of different questions concerning their careers.
One pupil asked for some tips on how to be a better footballer. Clarke replied, “It is always good to practice with your weaker foot. I am right footed but I play on the left, so I can use both of my feet. At your young age it is something good to practice on.”
Clarke and Nikolaou wanted to make the pupils understand how important it is to work hard at school, Clarke said, “You have to be focused. I never messed around at school because I knew that if I worked hard, my teachers wouldn’t mind me going out of school some times to play football, so it is just as important to focus on your school work as well as your football.”
One of the pupils was the captain for the primary school’s year six-football team, and he asked the O’s captain about what it is like to have that role at Orient. Clarke said, “Personally it is a great achievement for me as I am 31 now and it is a very good club to be involved in, so to be captain is very special to me. Being club captain involves other roles away from the pitch, like coming to schools like this, which is fantastic.”
Andis spoke to the pupils about being part of the Orient youth team before signing a professional contract with the club. He said, “I have always played football from a young age. I moved to England three years ago to sign for the Orient youth team and through hard work I have now signed a professional contract with the club.”
The pupils then spent some time individually reading to Clarke and Nikolaou in an attempt to improve the reading ethic of the school. Clarke had also visited Aldersbrook last season to read with some students, something that can help make the pupils realize how important it is to read to have someone that they can look up to and reinforce what their teachers are telling them.
To end the day with some more fun, everyone then transferred to the playground where both players and pupils showed off their skills and tricks with a football.
Dean Gibson, Parent Support Advisor for the school, commented, “The relationship we have had with Leyton Orient over the last year or so has been tremendous. The link made via the LOPASS (Leyton Orient Partnership of Associated Schools Scheme) has benefitted us greatly and really brought the club to the fore with our pupils. To have such great access to a professional club is terrific and having the player’s visit is just superb. They really do help as positive role models”.