Over the course of the 2023/24 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 Caroline, 14 and from Camden has enjoyed positive experiences with the Premier League Girls Kicks programme.
Project: Premier League Girls Kicks
Participants: 600-plus per year across the project
Available to: Girls aged eight to 18
“I first found out about the scheme by my mentor, who used to do boxing with me. He told me about Arsenal doing a girls’ football session and I thought, ‘Why not?’ and signed up for it. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to my first session and was anxious, but once I arrived I was immediately hooked.
“I enjoyed it so much and I could see myself developing into a better person as well as a better player. It has also enhanced my passion for football and that encourages me to keep coming back.
“Before I joined I was going through personal challenges outside of football. However, joining the session helped me to forget about those issues for a couple of hours. Football brings freedom and joy that can’t be matched, and it has helped me cope with challenging situations.
“Some of the events I’ve particularly enjoyed have been the tournaments at Market Road – it’s great to play in tournaments and be competitive, plus you get to meet so many people from around the local community and make new friends. I’ve also been on a tour of Emirates Stadium, which was an amazing opportunity to see the pitch where superstars like Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard play!
“I’ve made so many good friends here and they are all so important to me. They’re special friendships because I’ve got to know people who I wouldn’t socialise with on a day-to-day basis, which is the beauty of football. The game brings together people from different communities because of our love for the game. They made me feel welcome when I first came and our friendship has developed ever since.
“I wasn’t expecting some of the group to be older than me but they’re all good people here. Some are just as passionate about football as me and love playing the game. The Arsenal staff are great too. They’re helpful, caring and funny. They’re a joy to be with and make our sessions really fun.
“Being part of the Arsenal Premier League Kicks programme has also developed my social skills. I feel confident speaking to everyone and getting people more involved. It also means I get to represent the team that I love. I hope that one day, when I’m older, I’ll be able to play for Arsenal Women.
“If anyone is given the opportunity or wants to join something like this, then I would highly suggest doing it. You won’t regret it. You’ll make friends and have a wonderful time. That’s what happened to me. The project has changed me – I’m much happier and I’ve got an amazing group of friends who I can trust.
“When I started Kicks, I didn’t actually know about any of the other projects, but I’ve since found out about other initiatives run by Arsenal in the Community. It’s amazing to see the scope of sessions they deliver and the reach they have in and around north London. They’re a credit to the community and they bring about a sense of belonging.”
For more information email Jack Ironside at email@example.com
Over the past 17 years, Premier League Kicks has had a significant impact on people and places.
Today, 90 clubs across the Premier League, English Football League and National League work with 36 police forces to provide young people with access to free weekly football sessions and education workshops in safe and supportive community environments.
Nearly half a million young people have benefited to date.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.