Virgin Media surprises Southampton schoolchildren with special Saints training session

4 August 2017

A group of Southampton schoolchildren swapped their regular PE lesson for a surprise football masterclass at Southampton FC’s training ground, thanks to a special event organised by Virgin Media.

Thirty pupils from Newlands Primary School in Millbrook received exclusive access to the Saints’ Staplewood training ground to help hone their football skills.

Virgin Media, the official shirt sponsor, worked with Southampton FC to grant the youngsters unprecedented access to the ground - usually reserved for players and staff only. The school was chosen to take part in the activity due to children being avid Saints fans. 

Club mascot, Sammy the Saint, revealed to the youngsters aged between 9 and 11 (Years 5 and 6) they would be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train on the same pitch as their heroes, during a special assembly.

After arriving at Staplewood, the class were handed the club’s new kit for the 2017/18 season so they could play in the spirit of the first team, and were able to take the strip home afterwards.     

Led by Saints Foundation, the official charity of Southampton FC, the kids received expert tuition and were put through their paces with high-speed drills, taught tips and tricks, and then played a number of matches.

The company organised the event as part of its ongoing commitment to the Southampton community to show that it is a different type of football sponsor and is on the side of fans.

Brigitte Trafford from Virgin Media said: “Ahead of the new season, we wanted to give these young Saints fans a day to remember with an unforgettable visit to the Staplewood training ground.

“It was really heart-warming to see the kids’ reactions as they played on the same pitch as their heroes.

“We’re on the side of all football fans, young and old, and we’ll continue to be behind supporters as the new season kicks off next week.”

Dylan, aged 10, from Newlands Primary School, said: “It was a really great and fun day. It was good to play at the Saints training ground - a great once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Jez Harris, PE co-ordinator at Newlands Primary School, commented: “It was an unbelievable experience, not only for the 30 lucky pupils but also the adults supervising. From the coach that brought us to Staplewood to the brand new kits for all the pupils, the magic of the day was etched on all the faces of the children.

“We are incredibly thankful to Southampton Football Club and Virgin Media for the opportunity to create these lifelong memories with our children, and to finish our school year with such an amazing celebration of hard work and unity.”


Note to editors

  • The event took place on 19 July.
  • Virgin Media became the official shirt sponsor of Southampton at the start of the 2016-17 season in a three-year deal.
  • The company aims to be a different type of football sponsor and has carried out a number of initiatives to get behind football fans, such as subsidising away tickets to £20 for Saints’ fans travelling to a number of grounds last season.
  • The company also supports the Football Supporters’ Federation’s ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign and subsidies away fans’ tickets to St Mary’s to £20.
  • Virgin Media is the UK’s only TV provider to offer all the football on Sky Sports and BT sports in one package. 

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