Arsenal in the Community

James Banathy, Arsenal Gap Year 2015

James Banathy, Arsenal Gap Year 2015


From: St. Albans, Hertfordshire

Pre-Gap Year: A-Levels in Economics, Psychology and PE

Post-Gap Year: Studying Sports Management at Loughborough University

Gap Year placement(s): Mozambique, Australia

What did you gain from doing the Arsenal Gap Year?

The Arsenal Gap Year has hugely developed my coaching ability. I learnt a lot from Coach Education sessions which were run by very experienced and knowledgeable Arsenal in the Community coaches.  Furthermore the opportunity to coach people of all abilities, ages and personalities in three very different locations of London, Mozambique and Australia was an unrivalled experience.

The Gap Year is a lot more than just coaching development. It gives you an excellent opportunity to travel and volunteer whilst doing something you love every day. I have seen different cultures and hugely different ways of living and working. I have done things I never thought I would whilst meeting so many incredible and inspiring people along the way. 

What was your favourite part of the programme?

My favourite part of the Gap Year was coaching the kids in the community of Manica in Mozambique. These kids were very poor but the love they had for the game was the same as mine. They would be there every day with a smile on their face and their attitude was superb. Not speaking the same language as the kids was certainly a challenge, but one that I enjoyed and learnt a lot from as I was forced to adapt my coaching style to include more visual demonstrations. Coaching these kids was a very humbling experience and something I will never forget.

How would you describe your overall experience on the Arsenal Gap Year?

The best year of my life! As someone who loves coaching football and a big Arsenal supporter I couldn’t believe how lucky I was when I came across the Gap Year programme and got accepted onto it.  Now though, after completing the programme, it has way surpassed any expectations I had.  I still can’t believe all the things I have done and learnt in just one year.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of doing the Arsenal Gap Year? 

If you have a passion for football and really want to achieve something on your gap year then this Gap Year is perfect for you. It doesn’t matter if you support Arsenal or have any coaching experience, this programme will bring the best out of you and really develop you as a football coach.

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