Kai is 20 and from Islington. He’s a participant from our social inclusion programmes Kicks/Positive Futures.
“The first time I heard about Kicks/Positive Futures, I was very little, probably about seven years old. I remember walking through Harvist Estate, right next to Emirates Stadium, with my mum and my twin. Knowing it was free was a huge relief. As I grew up my life was tough – I think that’s where my challenging situation began. I didn’t like education, so I didn’t want to try and push for higher grades. I wasn’t ambitious.
“The first session I went to, I just remember being happy in the environment. The coaches were great, they were supportive, and they ensured that I was in a safe environment. It was like that for every session I attended. They also gave me a lot of advice and tips on progression pathways, which obviously worked because I now coach for the Community department. The friendships/work relationships I’ve formed are with the best people.
“Personally I think that’s the best thing that’s come out of my time at Arsenal. The coaches I work with are such great people, who I respect highly. The team I have behind me are just incredible.
“One coach in particular I work with is Ramone at Harvist Estate. Ramone helped me prepare for the last day of my coaching course and that was massive at the time. He has been supportive both on and off the pitch for me. Being part of social inclusion has changed me in a positive way – it has made me feel ambitious and it has given me a goal to push towards, which is to be a fully licensed football coach.
“I didn’t have a path before Arsenal. I have never been excited to look forward to doing something every week. It helps you adapt to the world and in a working environment. It makes everything easier.
“I think the thing that surprised me most is how much casual coaches are looked up to by our participants. They always ask where we are or how we are and that puts a smile on my face. I’d never thought I’d have to be a role model to these guys. But I had to step up as a person to do it. Being part of Arsenal is like being part of a family – you support each other no matter what. It has also given me the confidence to take on any challenges that come my way and to try new things whether it be within Arsenal or outside of Arsenal. I’m prouder of myself than I have ever been.”
Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.