The work of Arsenal in the Community over the past quarter of a century has informed the approach to our social inclusion programmes.
These schemes believe in the notion of ‘sport for good' rather than ‘sport for sport's sake' and prioritise social contributions ahead of sporting outcomes.
Our ‘Action Sport' project of the mid 1980's was the department's first attempt at such work, since then many of our projects continue to offer targeted support to young people. The positive knock-on effects for their communities have been significant.
After taking on board the Government's ‘Every Child Matters' agenda in 2004, Arsenal in the Community quickly realised that much of its work had naturally been contributing to all five strands, a decade and a half before it was introduced.
In recent years expectations have grown from central and local Government, football authorities and the public for professional football clubs to play their part in addressing some of the social issues faced by society.
Arsenal in the Community has been a pioneering force in the development of sports based social inclusion initiatives and its work has been recognised across the board from football administrators to Government ministers. Through its involvement in the Positive Futures and Kickz programmes Substance has closely monitored Arsenal in the Community's achievements which has consistently broken new ground and set the pace for othersProfessor Tim Crabbe, Chair of Substance (social research company)
Connecting to disengaged individuals and groups is difficult and although the Club does not claim to have solutions to some of the complex issues they face, these projects are well positioned to make significant contributions to them and the communities in which they live.
All too often young people can easily find themselves drawn into the criminal justice system; involved in gangs, exposed to substance misuse and other negative influences. Offering positive activities and a suitable role model does go some way to act as a diversion but the issues are far more complicated. Targeting vulnerable individuals and supporting them is an approach the department has adopted.
Much of this work is as far removed from football as can be; rehabilitation, support for a relapsed cocaine addict, character witness in court cases and gang exit strategies for individuals, the list goes on.
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 12 Jan 2011