Arsenal Football Club is celebrating 25 years of commitment to its community for a week from 22nd February 2010.  For the last quarter of a century, Arsenal in the Community has delivered over 5.5 million hours of time to more than one million participants undertaking a wide variety of sporting, charitable, educational and social inclusion projects in London and overseas.

To mark the milestone, Arsenal in the Community will share the work it undertakes with Arsenal players who will visit the projects throughout the week to meet participants on some of the long-standing and more recent projects, with a culminating celebration at Emirates Stadium on February 25th with manager, Arsène Wenger.

Speaking ahead of the event, Arsène Wenger said: “We are very proud to celebrate this milestone.  People often only see a little part of the Club which is the football team but there is a tremendous amount of work at other levels and that includes a huge contribution to helping people within our surrounding community and beyond.

“Arsenal has many responsibilities. We pride ourselves on enriching and propelling people’s lives forward by devising and developing projects that help to overcome the ever-changing issues that affect our society today. Of course it’s not the most glamorous part, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the most important one.  This week is very important for everyone in the Arsenal community to take a look back at 25 years of dedicated work and participation and reflect upon the future when we will continue the great work and grow even more projects to involve our supporters and the community at large.”

Throughout the week, Arsenal players will visit Arsenal in the Community’s range of projects including the Arsenal short mat bowls team which was founded by senior citizens in 1985 and Arsenal’s primary school initiative ‘World on our Doorstep’ which draws parallels between the Club and the multicultural north London area in which the Club is rooted.  

On Wednesday, the award-winning education project, the Arsenal Spanish Double Club will also receive a visit from a first team player.  This education initiative has its roots in the ‘double’ winning season of 1998 when Arsenal in the Community piloted a scheme which fused football with literacy learning.  The Double Club experience uses football and Arsenal related resources to raise motivation and ability in a wide variety of academic subjects in the classroom followed by a football coaching session.  On Thursday, Arsenal players will accompany Arsène Wenger at Emirates Stadium to listen to stories from participants on various initiatives before toasting 25 years of success.

Arsenal in the Community was founded in February 1985 when Vic Akers OBE (Arsenal’s first team kit manager and Arsenal Ladies General Manager) was appointed the Club’s first community liaison officer following the creation of a national programme which encouraged young people in urban communities to participate in recreational and competitive sport.   Since this time, head of Arsenal in the Community, Alan Sefton has grown a collection of projects since then which have responded to the needs of its community.

Reflecting upon 25 years of Arsenal in the Community, Alan Sefton said: “All of our programmes embrace a cross section of community involvement and they’re delivered and received with the same energy and commitment today as when they started 25 years ago. To us, that’s the true test of success.  

“We hope that everyone involved with Arsenal in the Community enjoys this week of celebration and gains inspiration from the memories and stories of participants.  We have looked back to look forward.  Here’s to another 25 years and reaching more people through our programmes than ever before.”

As part of the celebrations, Arsenal Football Club has produced a booklet entitled, ‘Community Review’ which takes a look back on 25 years of dedicated commitment and looks forward with pledges to supporters and the Arsenal community.  Copies of this booklet are available here (PDF, 41MB) or in a hard copy through the Club’s communications department.

This special Arsenal in the Community 25th anniversary event also formed part of the Premier League initiative Places for Players (part of the Creating Chances scheme) which uses the power of football to engage a cross section of community in a wide variety of projects.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 18 Feb 2010