Sargent and Giannoulis surprise Queen’s Hill pupils

Story added: 1st April 2022

Players help Active Canaries Health Month finish with a bang

Pupils at Queen’s Hill Primary School got a surprise on Thursday when Norwich City’s Josh Sargent and Dimitris Giannoulis joined a special assembly.

The school was one of over 70 across the region that took part in the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation’s Active Canaries Health Month, where pupils were encouraged to try four healthy dishes inspired by the national cuisines of some of Norwich City’s first team players.

The meals were designed by Norwich City’s chef Dan Savage and were served on Thursdays throughout March. They included Josh’s American Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Dimi’s Greek Chicken Flatbread, while Teemu Pukki’s Finnish Fish Pie Pasta Bake and Tim Krul’s Dutch Vegetarian Sausage Stew completed the collection.

In total, over 15,000 Active Canaries meals were served in schools by Norse Catering, who even produced four recipe cards for every child that took part so that they could try and make the meals at home.

Pupils at Queen’s Hill, fresh from their final Active Canaries lunch, were brought into the main hall for a ‘special assembly’ to talk about what they had learned during the month.

It was then that the Foundation’s Head of Curriculum Stevie Bramble suggested the children chant ‘U-S-A’ in honour of their favourite meal; the noisy response produced an unexpected result as American international Josh Sargent appeared from the doorway to a sea of open mouths.

A similar trick, with the children cheering ‘Dimi, Dimi’, led to the Canaries’ Greek fullback following his teammate into the room to complete the surprise.

The children waited patiently as each class was called up for a photo with the players, who chatted about their meals and how they eat as professional sportspeople.

The Health Month has not just been about the meals; over 3,500 pupils joined four live assemblies online with the Foundation and special guests that included Norwich City’s Michael McGovern, to discuss four key topics of wellbeing: sleep, nutrition, exercise, and giving.

Speaking to Rob Butler, for BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Scrimmage, after the visit, Josh Sargent said:

“A lot of these young kids look up to us, and what we’re eating is obviously a big part of who we are and how we can perform well. If we can help them with that, they’re going to have healthier, better lives and it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Dimitris Giannoulis added:

“It was really fun, the kids were great and it’s really nice to see them so happy.”

Year 3 teacher Eloise Peek described the moment the players appeared:

“It was amazing, the children’s faces when they came in. They were just so excited!

“They’ve been excited for the past four weeks when they got cards with recipes and facts on. They’ve shown their grown-ups at home and some of them have even cooked some of the meals.”

Andrew Lipscomb, Operations Director for Norse Catering, said:

“For us it was a really exciting project. Anything that we can do to encourage children to look at food and nutrition, we can’t go wrong.”

“It’s proven that if children eat a lunch that is nutritionally balanced, they learn better.

Stevie Bramble, Head of Curriculum for Norwich City Community Sports Foundation said:

“It’s been great to get them (the children) trying other things from other cultures, inspired by the players.

“The impact we’ve had over the last four weeks has been phenomenal and we look forward to seeing where we go from here.”

Zoe Ward, Executive Director of Norwich City Football Club, said:

“I am delighted with the way the Active Canaries Health Month has been such a hit with so many schools and young people – we have a duty as a football club to inspire the next generation to lead healthy, active lifestyles.”

“The reach we have had this past month, with the help of the Foundation, players and staff, and Norse Catering, has been phenomenal, but it is is just the start of the journey.”

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"A lot of these young kids look up to us, and what we’re eating is obviously a big part of who we are and how we can perform well. If we can help them with that, they’re going to have healthier, better lives and it’s a win-win for everybody"

Josh Sargent

Norwich City Football Club