When it comes to international football fixtures, Leigh’s Bedford High really is a winner.
For the school has just played host to a team of talented young soccer stars all the way from South Africa.
“The visit was not only a chance for them to learn about a different culture but also an opportunity for our students to gain an insight into the lives of South African students.”Headteacher Helen Phillips
Bedford has set up a special international partnership with The Gardens Commercial High School in Cape Town. The link meant that seven students from The Gardens, all aged 16, made the 18 hour journey from their homes all the way to Leigh.
The visit was to help the students find out more about life in England, experience a different culture and celebrate a shared passion for the beautiful game.
Bedford’s head of PE, Mick Thompson, said: “The boys took part in a typical school day to see how it differs from what they are used to at home. They took part in lessons and PE sessions and our students acted as ‘buddies’ for the visitors during their time with us.”
Mick added: “They also had the chance to enjoy some cultural visits, including a trip to Chester.”
Top trip on the week-long itinerary was a trip to the Theatre of Dreams, as the students enjoyed a VIP tour of Manchester United’s Old Trafford Football Stadium.
The Gardens Commercial High School was established in 1968 but has a history dating back to 1882.
In 2006, The Gardens was designated as a specialist Business and Management school, similar to Bedford’s specialist Business and Enterprise status. Gardens is also part of an educational initiative aimed at redressing the Apartheid educational system.
Gardens’ teacher Leon Abrahams, who accompanied the students, said: “We have been made to feel very welcome by our hosts here at Bedford. The students have enjoyed seeing how the school is different from their own.
“It’s a lot bigger than they are used to and the facilities are superb. Everyone has really loved their time here.”
While visiting student Brady Sheldon, said: “It’s a fantastic school! We have been really impressed with the students and everyone has been really friendly towards us. “Seeing Old Trafford was definitely the best part of the trip but we have enjoyed everything we have done.
“It’s been great to play football against the Bedford students. I would love to come back and visit again.”
And while England’s national team was crashing out of Euro 2016, the Bedford boys kept the flag flying through a series of matches with their new South African friends.
Bedford’s Year 9 team managed to hold their much older opponents to a four-all draw. The visitors also played teams from other schools in Leigh as part of their visit. Bedford head Helen Phillips said: “We were delighted to welcome the students from The Gardens. They were a credit to their school and great ambassadors for their country. The visit was not only a chance for them to learn about a different culture but also an opportunity for our students to gain an insight into the lives of South African students.”