Arsenal in the Community

In focus: Islington Borough Under-11s

Community Stories Islington Borough
Holly (right, standing next to her coach) has represented her school, Arsenal and now Islington – next stop Arsenal Women?

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 ten-year-old Holly has grown in confidence on and off the pitch by playing for our district team Islington Borough.

Project: Islington Borough Under-11s

Established: 2022

Participants since starting: 16

Weekly participants: 16

Sessions: Train weekly and play regular competitive fixtures

Available to: Selected via invitation/trials

About the participant: Holly is ten years old and from Islington. Thanks to the support from the Gunners Fund – The Arsenal Foundation’s small grant scheme –  she has been able to pursue her playing passion with a brand new team, Islington District Under-11s Girls.

Participant Holly says…

“My big brother plays for Islington District too and we heard about the girls’ team from one of the coaches. Then my school coach gave me a letter about it as well. I played on my school team when we represented Arsenal in the finals of the Premier League Primary Stars Competition at Watford this year.

“I really, really wanted to be on the district team! It was so exciting to think that I’d be able to meet and play with other girls like me, and I thought it would be a great experience for me.

“I’m lucky to play in a good boys’ team but they were all talking about Year 6 district trials and I was upset there wasn’t a girls’ district team. I was ecstatic when I heard they were starting one and I’m very grateful to James, Ellen and Will for their work.

“The first time I went to training I was super-excited. I had met some brilliant girls at the trials and I was looking forward to seeing new friends but was also happy that some of my school and club team-mates had got in as well. The matches have been great and I really enjoyed the Arsenal five-a-side tournament at The Hub. I love training because I’m learning so much and having lots of fun.

“I feel like I’ve made some very special friends very quickly. We’ve bonded really well and that has made us a strong team where we all support each other. I think that definitely helps us play well together – I really didn’t think I would make such a brilliant group of friends so quickly.

“The staff are always really fun and do a lot to help us enjoy the matches, too. James has taught me a lot about respect in football – for your team-mates, the opposition and the referee. Will has been an amazing coach and I’m learning so much – he tells me to trust my team mates. Ellen is the best and helped me feel better when I missed a penalty. She is so positive and encouraging.

“Being in the district team has made me a better player and has increased my confidence. I only play in defence in the boys’ team, but in the district teams I’ve been given the chance to play in midfield and as striker. It has made me believe that I can do more things that I thought I was able to, on and off the pitch. I’m also learning new communication skills that will help me to be a supportive and positive co-captain.

“My new communication skills have helped me in school, and I do feel more confident as a whole. It means so much to be involved at Arsenal as I support the team and we have seasons tickets for Arsenal Women. I definitely want to play for them when I grow up!”

For more information email James Warnock at

Community Stories Islington Borough

Holly with one of her heroes, Frida Maanum

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