Arsenal in the Community

Community youth meet French legends

French Football Reception
Arsène Wenger talked about the power of sport to inspire young people to follow their dreams

Ten participants from Arsenal in The Community were invited to the French Embassy to attend a special event highlighting the impact of French Football in the UK on Tuesday October 25.

The main aim of the event was to promote the ties between France and England as well as use sport as a platform to inspire young people to follow their sporting dreams.

Notable attendees included former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein and former Arsenal captain and current Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira. The Arsenal legend, who captained the side during the famous 2003/04 Invincibles season, was accompanied by three of his French first-team players in Michael Olise, Odsonne Edouard, and Jean-Philippe Mateta.

Israa Ali, a Premier League Kicks participant, said, “It wasn’t something I was expecting from a session where I play football. The coaches talk with us about experiences outside of football and taking opportunities, I didn’t expect I would get this opportunity.

“Going into an embassy and meeting a lot of different people, just being inside the building and seeing the players and managers, was amazing. My family can’t believe I did something like this, sharing my pictures with family they’re really shocked.”

The event was also a chance to celebrate & look ahead to France’s exciting upcoming sporting calendar, which includes the current World Cup champions defending their title in Qatar this Winter, as well as hosting the 2023 Rugby World and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

It was an incredible evening for our participants who were able to have unique conversations with the likes of Vieira, Wenger, and Dein who kindly gave up large parts of their evening to speak with and get to know our participants. They took part in activities on the night such as a French football themed-quiz and playing table football while soaking in the jovial atmosphere at the French residence.

Rebecca Jones, a Community sessional worker at Arsenal in The Community, said,

“I personally felt it went extremely well and it was a comfortable experience for all, everyone was made to feel included from the start with introductions to the final goodbyes.”

Jack Ironside, our Senior Manager: Social Inclusion, added, “Providing our participants with memorable experiences and opportunities outside of playing football is an important aspect of our community work. We aim to raise the aspirations of our participants through building their confidence and providing them with opportunities to experience new environments.

“This was a great experience for our PL Kicks participants. The young people represented the club extremely well by networking with guests at the embassy including Arsenal legends Arsène Wenger and Patrick Vieira. They were given the opportunity to ask them questions and received valuable advice about opportunities within full both on and off the pitch.”

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