Arsenal in the Community’s social inclusion work believes in the notion of ‘sport for good’ rather than ‘sport for sport’s sake’ and prioritise social contributions ahead of sporting outcomes.
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’s Positive Futures and Kicks programmes currently form the umbrella for this work at the club.
Connecting to disengaged individuals and groups is difficult and although the club does not claim to have solutions to some of the complex issues participants face, these projects are well positioned to make significant contributions to them and the communities in which they live. Numerous case studies reflect how Arsenal in the Community has been able to push the boundaries.
All too often young people can 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. Individuals benefit from Arsenal in the Community’s attention and so do the communities in which they live.
The work has been the catalyst for regeneration and a number of local pitches have been refurbished to create places where young people actually want to play and feel a sense of belonging and connection to Arsenal.
Copyright 2016 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