PUPILS from Maindee Primary School in Newport met Newport County AFC players Aaron O’Connor and Ismail Yakubu on a special visit to Rodney Parade yesterday.

The youngsters were the first to take part in a new schools initiative launched by the League Two club this week to connect with the local community.

As well as meeting O’Connor and Yakubu, the kids were given a football skills session with community development officer Norman Parselle before taking a tour of Rodney Parade and then watching a motivational video featuring a team talk from manager Justin Edinburgh.

“I’m a Newport boy and a former player at the club and it breaks my heart to think that local kids don’t support their local team,” said Parselle.

“Back in my day every school kid in Newport could name the County players and now they don’t know any of them.

“They support Liverpool or Manchester United or they’ve gone off to support Cardiff and this initiative is about getting them involved with Newport County again.

“We’re working with 27 primary schools at the moment and we’re looking to branch out and do maybe 40.

“This is the first one so we’re pleased that it’s gone well and the kids have enjoyed it and the teachers have found it worthwhile.”

Teacher Lisa Poyner said: “The kids have had a fantastic time.

“They’ve learned some new skills from Norman and enjoyed meeting the players.

“It’s been a brilliant experience and I think they’ve gained quite a lot from it.”

County striker O’Connor said: “It’s always good to see the kids excited about meeting us and we had fun answering their questions.

“The better rapport they’ve got with the players then hopefully they’ll tell their families and friends and they’ll come back to support the club in the future.”