Soccer: 'This is incredible,' Beckham tells fans (+photos)

By Paul Smith

David Beckham has spoken of his astonishment after up to 15,000 school children and other well-wishers turned out to watch the LA Galaxy star train this morning.

"Thank you to all the children and all the schools, because this is incredible," Beckham told the huge gathering.

Beckham then embarked on a lap of honour, much to the delight of the screaming hordes.

The noise level was loud and high-pitched throughout the training session, rising to a crescendo every time Beckham waved or smiled at the crowd.

The training itself was pretty untaxing with some light stretching and jogging followed by a game of half-paced seven-a-side.

Late in the session when the team took free-kicks, Beckham put his first one onto the bar drawing "oohs" from the crowd.

His second went straight at the goalkeeper prompting "boos", but his third went in to loud cheers and a smile from Beckham himself.

The good news is there was no sign of any trouble with his injury-prone ankle.

Beckham also showed some of the neat, skillful touches which are his trademark.

Children held up banners saying: "We love Becks", and "Go David Beckham".

One of the schools from across the region at the session was Kelburn Normal School where teacher Fiona Lewis said the children had been building up to the event for weeks.

"Some play soccer so they are really, really keen to be here, for others it is just something new," she said. "But they all know who David Beckham is."

The school bussed 200 children aged 7 to 11 to Westpac Stadium, among them eight-year-olds Coco and Emma-Jane who both said they were very excited to be there.

Beckham's Galaxy teammate Cobi Jones said after the end of the training session: "It was pretty fabulous. It is great to see so many kids here."

He recognised that most of the interest was in seeing Beckham and acknowledged things had changed since the Englishman joined the club, but said that was not a distraction to the other players.

"It is not a concern. The crowd focus is on where the ball is whether it is training or a game," Jones said.

The arrival of Beckham was a boost to not only the Galaxy but the whole sport in the US.

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