Over the course of the 2022/23 season we will hear from a wide range of local people who have benefitted from Arsenal in the Community projects. Here we find out more about how Arsenal Bowls helped Ben recover from major heart surgery and how the friends he made at the club helped him through the pandemic.
Project: Arsenal Bowls
Participants since starting: 2,000
Weekly participants: 50-60
Sessions: Eight venues throughout Islington including The Arsenal Hub: Fridays 10am-12pm
Available to: Local participants who are keen to play sport and forge new friendships
About the participant: Ben is a 68-year-old regular participant of our Arsenal Bowls project who has particularly loved being part of the scheme during a recent spell of rehabilitation.
Participant Ben says… “I first found out about the bowls sessions through Rose my wife, who was already attending short mat bowls at The Arsenal Hub.
“I was aware of Arsenal in the Community’s work because I used to work for Islington education in schools and understood there were several outreach projects being offered to young people.
“I didn’t need much persuasion as I was already playing at Finsbury Park Bowls Club. A few years ago I had a major heart operation, and a key part of the rehabilitation was to exercise regularly. Arsenal Bowls was perfect for that. It’s had a very positive effect on my health.
“The players were very welcoming and friendly. It was also nice to see other age groups doing activities at The Hub, all with a smile on their faces. I’ve got to know a few people through bowls and some have become very good friends. That has been so important, particularly in the light of the recent lockdowns. I appreciate more than ever what these sessions can do for my mental and physical health.
“More specifically the staff have been extremely friendly and helpful, particularly Mark, the project lead. His link with Finsbury Park Bowls Club is particularly useful as quite a few of the Arsenal bowlers also play for them. There was also a significant grant from the Gunners Fund, without which the club wouldn’t have survived. You can talk to Mark about anything and he always listens. The Community department also organise events and activities for us that are not necessarily bowls related. I find them all really enjoyable. And, of course, every now and again we get a chance to see the Gunners!
“I feel part of Arsenal Football Club by being part of this project. And I am a fan, but being part of the bowls club is much more than that. It’s like being part of a family of like-minded people.
“What has surprised me the most is how we’ve all stuck together and supported each other, especially through the pandemic. A few of our bowlers are not really football fans but, when you ask them, they all feel part of Arsenal. It’s kind of fun being part of a community – it’s nice to have a sense of belonging. I’d encourage anybody to join who is looking for that kind of experience it’s just a good feeling. They’d get fitter and make new friends. Apart from the obvious health benefits, it’s made me more sociable and more positive as a person.”
For more information email Mark Antoniewicz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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