The Duchess of Cambridge playing football with schoolchildrenCredit:Phil Noble/Reuters As duty called, the Duke and Duchess were called to meet a line-up of adults from the Female Football Leaders programme; the Goals Programme which helps young people who are not at employment, education or training; the Education Programme designed to reach the next generation of coaches; Stay Onside, aimed at reducing offending; and wheelchair football game Powerchair. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meeting former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat JenningsCredit:Liam McBurney/PA In a meeting, they also heard from representatives of Ahead of the Game, a mental health partnership that aims to support players with mental illness in local clubs, with a focus on challenging the stigma and preventative measures.Before the left, the Duke and Duchess were presented with three small green shirts from the Northern Ireland national football team for George, Charlotte and Louis.”Thank you very much,” the Duchess said. Asking the children whether they’d enjoyed their football session, she admitted it was “quite difficult keeping the ball right on your foot” in the dribbling drills.”Louis will have to grow into that one,” said the Duke, noting the toddler-sized shirt with his name on before thinking about. “Actually, he’ll problem fit it.” The Duke and Duchess, who had changed from a smart Carolina Herrera red coat into casual sportwear, then stepped out onto the pitch to take part in dribbling drills with primary school children.The pair, who joined different groups, each made a good attempt at dribbling around cones and children, with the Duke heard to say: “I can’t tackle the children just yet.”The Duchess joined girls aged four to seven, who were taking part in a Shooting Stars programme to encourage young women into football. “Do you like doing sport?” the Duchess asked a group of them, crouching down to their level. “I love being outside. Thank you so much for letting me play. Do any of you want to play football professionally?”Told yes, she said: “Wow!”Clare Carson, girls’ participation officer at the IFA, said: “She was saying if she had played football when she was younger, she might have loved it as well.”She was happily surprised it’s now now just the norm to play as girls.” “She thought maybe the girls are here because their brothers play, but they’re not.”Moving to a second group, children from McDonalds Fun Football, the Duchess comforter Jasmine, nine, who had become a little overwhelmed by her royal visitor. Nadine Murphy, a coach, said afterwards: “The Duchess took her time and spoke to her about being shy, telling her it’s ok and a good thing. She made sure she loved football. She staying with her the whole time with her arm around her.”She said ‘I was shy at school as well and it’s ok’.”Jasmine, who went on to join the football drills happily, said that getting “a hug from a princess” had made her feel much better.The Duke had already joined a game of football with primary school children, and was busy shouting encouragement at them when his wife turned up on the sidelines.”Come on, superstar,” he said, before warning children conspiratorially: “Look out, she does for the ankles.”As the non-competitive game went on, he shouted “tackle her!” as he fell back to let the children have a chance.”I could happily stay here playing football all day,” he said later. Lynne Wilson, sports development officer at Belfast City Council added: “She was saying it’s not just about being on the pitch, it’s about being outside with your family and learning social skills. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have gone head-to-head in a football match, as the Duchess admits her own children are not too impressed by her ball skills.The couple, who have embarked on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland, indulged their competitive spirits as they joined children for a friendly match at Windsor Park football stadium, home of the Irish Football Association (IFA). The Duke warned the youngsters of his wife “look out, she goes for the ankles”, before shouting “tackle her!”As the couple arrived at the stadium, they spoke with waiting schoolchildren about their love of football.The Duchess told secondary school pupils that her five-year-old son, Prince George, is now learning to play football, practising at home and telling her: “Mummy, you’re so rubbish.”Telling another group she would be joining in the games, she joked: “I should have picked up some tips from George.”After being welcomed to the stadium, the Duke and Duchess were given a short history of the Irish Football Association before meeting goalkeeper Pat Jennings, whose famously large hands are immortalised in plastercast in its museum.”Now there’s a man who needs no introduction,” said the Duke, who is president of the FA. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play football at Windsor Park, the home of Northern Irish footballCredit:REX/Getty Placing his own hands into the outline of Jennings’, he admired the “very long fingers” that had helped him become a goalkeeping legend.