Players and staff from the Chelsea Academy visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former concentration camp, last month as part of the Holocaust Memorial Tournament.
Our Under-15s were invited to take part in the Premier League’s educational visit to the Czech Republic and Poland following their success as winners of the Premier League International Tournament last season.
Alongside their counterparts from Hertha Berlin, Legia Warsaw and Banik Ostrava, the Blues competed in the four-team tournament, as well as contributing to other activities designed to remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered during the Second World War, and the millions of people killed in Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides.
Prior to the trip, the group spent time at Cobham with Ivor Perl BEM, a Holocaust survivor who was taken to Auschwitz as a 12 year-old boy along with his mother, sisters and younger brothers – only he and one of his eight siblings survived.
Ivor shared his experiences during a question and answer session before the players took part in the Foundation Stones project, which invites people to paint a commemorative stone to be placed within the foundations of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre.
After the tournament in Ostrava, the players presented to the other teams on their visit from Ivor and the impact that it had on them. ‘Ivor’s visit was a good teaching lesson for us so we knew what happened in the past and that we shouldn’t allow things like this to happen in the future,’ said Louis Flower, a player with our Under-15s.
‘It was a tough experience at times wandering around, seeing and sensing so much loss and the tragedy people have gone through,’ said Ian Howell, lead phase coach, of the group visit to Auschwitz. ‘It really brings a sense of history and the struggles people have gone through.’
Under-15 player Carlos Richards added: ‘It’s nice to feel that we were rivals yesterday in a tournament but today we’ve come close together to support this cause, which is good that we’re able to do that.’
The events support Chelsea’s ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ campaign, which was launched in 2018 to raise awareness and educate our players, staff, fans and the wider community about antisemitism in football and wider society. The campaign has won numerous awards including the Community Project of the Year Award at the London Football Awards last season.