A special visit to the Banks's...Walsall FC were visited by a Mexican football foundation on Easter Monday with several youngsters from Iniciativa 7 Mexico taking on Saddlers youngsters in a friendly match at the Banks’s Stadium.
The young footballers from Mexico also formed the guard of honour for the Saddlers’ first-team at the Banks’s later that afternoon, where the hosts went on to beat Swindon Town 1-0 through Joe Edwards’ fine finish in the 84th minute.
Iniciativa 7 is an entirely non-profit social project which was created to support and protect poverty-stricken children by providing them with the opportunity to learn, eat healthily and play football - a game they love.
The children flew in from Mexico to the United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 11, returning on Wednesday, April 19.
Their tour has included a whole host of events, with a visit to Manchester United’s Old Trafford, seats at league games for the Saddlers and Wolves, a tour of London, a fundraiser in their honour and the I7 Cup held by Ace Academy, followed by their prestige game against our Under-9s team at the Banks’s.
For all of the children this will be the first time they have left their home towns, let alone to travel abroad.
The friendly match, played on the artificial pitch behind the Tile Choice Stand, saw the Saddlers play some really good technical football in the early stages, but we fell behind due to a mistake at the back. As the game progressed into the second quarter, Walsall continued to push forward and eventually got the score back to 2-2, which was well deserved.
After the half-time whistle, Iniciativa’s players found another gear and were too strong for the Saddlers, moving the ball around very well and proving a consistent threat to our goal, eventually winning 7-2.
“On Easter Monday we welcomed the Mexican foundation’s Under-10s to the Banks’s Stadium to play our Academy Under-9s,” said Academy Manager Graham Biggs.
“Overall it was a very good experience for both teams and all the boys enjoyed it.”
Commercial Manager Wayne Thomas said: “It was nice to bring Iniciativa’s UK tour to a great conclusion with an action-packed day at Walsall FC.
“They played the Academy side, got the full tour and even met the Manager (Jon Whitney) and Chairman (Jeff Bonser) who couldn’t do enough for them - and the foundation were match sponsors, with the youngsters our flag-bearers.
“We have had great feedback and hopefully this is an experience they’ll never forget. We have organised for 15 Walsall kits to be sent to Mexico - they have said they are going to follow Walsall as their second club from now on, which is great!
“Our big thanks go to Andrew Sperling at Allfresch Group, who helped make all of this possible.”