England fans winning over German kids
- 21 Jun 06, 12:56 PM
COLOGNE - A whopping 85,000 England fans made it here for the match, the latest figures guestimate from officials.
But before the biggest crowd so far packed the stadium and city, one group of fans made it to a local school to teach the German children a few football songs. And it wasn’t like assembly in my day.
“And to think you were frightened to cough when I was at school,” one of the more senior England fans told me, with a mischievous eyebrow raised.
After ramping up assembly, they went off for a bi-lingual football natter in the classrooms and then to next door FC Koln for a penalty shoot-out.
Headmistress Beate Weisbarth – no shrinking violet on the microphone herself – told me that in one short day, the next generation of fans could learn English supporters were not just the hooligans they had heard about.
Initiatives like this bring the World Cup to suburban schoolkids unlikely to have a precious ticket to a game, says organiser Mark Perryman, convenor of the London England Fans group and actively involved in supporter initiatives to develop a positive England fan culture.
“If a group of Brazilians had come to my school when I was 11, I wouldn’t have forgotten it,” he says.
Well the England team might not have reached those heights yet, but the supporters are certainly making an impression.