September 11, 2014 by News

Ambassadors get a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience at the Maestrio weekend

IMG_6489The Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s young ambassadors Michelle ArstallAde Akande and Ibrahim Kanu jumped on the first flight when they got the opportunity to join the rest of the foundation’s staff on a trip to Glasgow.

During the weekend in Glasgow, the ambassadors met football legends and celebrities and even got to sign autographs themselves, after making an appearance for Rio’s All Star team against Paul McStay’s Maestro team.

404 Not Found Glasgow showed itself in its best light, as the sun shone on the ‘Maestrio’ weekend, DSC_0781which offered both a charity dinner for 700 guests and a charity match at Celtic Park with 25.000 people showing their support at the stadium.

The ambassadors all agreed that it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience:

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Michelle: “The chance to take part in the Maestrio game at Celtic will remain a fantastic memory with me for the rest of my life.”

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IMG_6685Ade: “The whole trip was a trip to remember. From the dinner to the match, everything was wonderful and unbelievable.”

Ibrahim: “The trip to Glasgow was an amazing trip. I couldn’t have asked for anymore and would like to thank everyone involved with the Celtic FC Foundation and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.”

The trip to Glasgow started with a photo shoot outside Celtic Park, where three of our five ambassadors got to pose in front of the famous sculpture of Brother Walfrid, founder of Celtic Football Club.

The weekend then became a lot more celebrity-orientated as the ambassadors got ‘dressed to impress’ and were seated next to the main tables at the five star Thistle Hotel, where celebs like Rizzle Kicks, Jack Whitehall and Ralf Little joined Rio Ferdinand’s football legends.

Michelle: “My abiding memory was at the evening reception where I was able DSC_0135to meet and mingle with stars such as Rio Ferdinand himself, Rizzle Kicks, Ralf Little and many more.

“I was also given the honour of standing up and asking the question in front of 700 guests; ‘I know this event is for charity, but will there be any dirty tactics in the game and if so, who do you think it will be?’.”

Ibrahim: “It was a real pleasure to represent Rio Ferdinand foundation as an ambassador at the dinner. I received a warm welcome from all the staff and fans from CelticDSC_0399, which made my experience very easy.”

However, for the two ambassadors from London (Ade and Ibrahim), the experience became somewhat unreal as Rio Ferdinand asked if they had bought their football boots with them and if they were ready to step onto Celtic Park in front of 25.000 fans.

Ibrahim: “The most memorable thing about the trip was being able to play for ‘Rio’s All-Stars’ team at the famous Celtic Park Stadium. Playing with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Andy Cole, Zola, Dwight Yorke, Phil Neville, Joey Barton and Dougie Freedman is a once in a lifetime experience DSC_0018that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

“Walking out onto Celtic Park with the football legends and celebrities gave me goose bumps and to see 25.000 fans at the stadium about to see me play felt like a dream.”

Ade: “To be honest I wasn’t nervous but I was overwhelmed with the occasion. To walk out with the legends was an unbelievable experience that most footballers can’t say they have done.

“The most memorable aspect of the trip for me was playing centre midfield with Paul Scholes. DSC_0813There were a lot of legends on the pitch but Paul Scholes was the stand out name for me, being a Manchester united supporter.

“Also being in the same dressing room as legends like Zola, Yorke, Cole and Ferdinand, and playing for Rio’s All-Star team was a memory that I will never forget. A dream come true.”

The three of them have been chosen to represent the foundation as young ambassadors, and they have come through our programmes in London and Manchester and are now working as a youth worker, sports coach and administrator respectively.

DSC_0673Ibrahim: The foundation has not only helped me out but it has helped to inspire the young people from Southwark and other areas of London to become focused and determined in whatever they want to do in life.”

Michelle: “To represent ACN and The Rio Ferdinand Foundation was a wonderful honour and an experience that will live with me for the rest of my life.”

Ade: “I felt honoured and I’m so proud to even be asked. To be chosen out of thousands of people that are a part of the foundation to represent them was unbelievable. I spoke to many people about the foundation and it was a privilege to say I represent something so great.

“I wouldn’t have been able to experience what I have during this weekend or even what I have experiencedDSC_0120 the last two years without the foundation.”

Rio Ferdinand was a big hit for the three ambassadors, who have all met the football legend before, but he was not the only one who impressed them.

Michelle: “I was overwhelmed by meeting Paul Scholes and being from Manchester and a Man United fan this was a jaw dropping moment. It was awesome meeting James McAvoy who is a wonderful actor!”IMG_6674

Ade: “Zola out of the footballers. Reason for this is because he retired about 10 years ago and he still had every bit of technique and skill in his locker. Once you’ve got it you never lose it.

“For the celebs I thought Ralf Little was a good player. I’ve seen him on TV playing in a few charity games and he always seems up for a laugh.”

Ibrahim: “Dougie Freedman really impressed me whist I was in Scotland. The media IMG_6450tend to state that football celebrities are very closed and have a habit of to not being interested in charity events like this, but from the very first second I met Dougie in the lift, he was very open to myself and Ade and he was very passionate about me playing in the match, as it’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Ade Akande travelled for the second time to Glasgow with the foundation, as last summer he was a part of the coaching team and he is hoping to see Celtic developing their work in London.

DSC_0034Ade: “It was amazing to be back after all the good work we have done in London and I felt proud that I was able to spearhead
the positive work we did and all the opportunities we created through sport to young people.

“I’m hoping to continue working with the Celtic FC Foundation through the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, who introduced me to the Celtic Foundation last year,
because I support the values of the club and it is something I would like to promote and achieve here in London.”