A SPORTING visitor proved to be the match of the day for a school which has netted a reputation for football talent.
Ex-England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright, now a regular TV football pundit, inspired young footballers at Richmond School and Sixth Form College.
He was immediately impressed with the success of the Year 7 team after they sailed through the North Yorkshire five-a-side championships to secure a place in the Northern Finals next month representing the county.
School plans for a 3G pitch were also welcomed by Ian who recognised the need to train all year round in all weathers.
Richmond School and Sixth Form College has an enviable record for football taking the silverware at county and area levels season after season.
But despite demonstrating consistent talent coach Jonathan Kellett told him that young players struggled to be selected at an elite level because very few scouts operated in the area.
Ian, who works with independent communications infrastructure specialists Shared Access, urged Year 7-13 boys and girls never to give up.
“I knew from the age of eight that I was good at football but didn’t get my first big break until I was 22,” he said.
“You have to be resilient. Your challenge is to be spotted, so become someone who blazes a trail. If the scouts are not looking, then work twice as hard rather than make this an excuse to give up.
“Write to them. Tell them how good you are and ask them to come and see you play. If they do, make sure you have prepared, that you have worked hard to be the best you can be. Whether it is sport or your exams, make sure you are prepared. If you are, there is nothing to fear.”
Students asked the former striker a host of questions about his career and views on the current game.
Year 7 team captain Fin Tulip said: “What was it like being called up for England after so much rejection?”
Ian said: “I cried. When I saw my boots and No9 shirt hanging there for me in the changing room, it was too much. I had to hide in the shower because if Gazza had seen me he would have said ‘aw look at Wrighty, he’s filling up’.
“But then the hard work really started as I was playing with the cream. It’s a good aim; try and get into a situation where you can be among the best.”
Head of community sport Tony Potter said: “Ian was incredible and what he told our students matched perfectly the school’s ethos of resilience, independence and the pursuit of excellence.
“He also extolled the virtues of healthy eating, hard work and tenacity, to accept the likely failures and rejection in life but to keep going. The students were spellbound and I am sure will remember the session for the rest of their lives.”