A former Premier League footballer joined thousands of youngsters and adults to take part in a family fun day to encourage more children to try out football.

Ray Parlour, who previously played for Arsenal and Middlesbrough, joined the Essex FA as they hosted the Fun Football Festival in Waltham Abbey on Saturday, June 15.

The event was designed to celebrate the work of grassroots clubs within area, including Ryan FC and introduce young boys and girls to the popular sport for the first time.

“There were plenty of youngsters playing with a smile on their face, which was brilliant to see,” said Mr Parlour.

“I hope that this Fun Football Festival and the others up and down the country give children a great platform to start playing and enjoying football on a more regular basis.”

Now a grassroots football ambassador for McDonald’s, the former midfielder took part in the drills and encouraged attendees to play whist posing for photographs and chat to parents.

A series of inflatable fun football experiences, were set out for all ages, including a dribble tunnel and a speedometer for who could kick the ball hardest.

McDonald’s franchisee, John Loizou, who also attended the event, said: “It’s events like these Fun Football Festivals that make me proud to be associated with McDonald’s.

“Having Ray Parlour in attendance was the icing on the cake and made for a great day out. There is a real sense of community around Waltham Abbey, and it was great to see both boys and girls, of all ages getting involved.”

Fun Football Festivals are taking place throughout the UK this summer alongside Fun Football Centres. To find out more about the McDonald’s and The FA community partnership visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball