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 Nyella has represented North London United, a football club for people with Down Syndrome, for a whole decade now.
Project: North London United
Participants since starting: 150
Weekly participants: 16
Sessions: Monday 5pm-6pm at The Arsenal Hub
Available to: Any young person with Down Syndrome
About the participant: Nyella has been involved with the North London United group since her father, Harold, started it ten years ago.
The enthusiasm and motivation to play football, be a part of the group and support others is such a huge part of Nyella’s personality that her involvement in the group was inevitable.
Access to opportunities for young people with Down Syndrome to flourish, not just take part, have been limited, so one of the reasons why Harold started the group was to ensure Nyella had the same opportunities as all her peers – building an environment that enabled her and other children to be challenged, to learn and to succeed was key.
Facing new environments and learning new skills can also be challenging for people with Downs, but Nyella has incredible self-belief and motivation. From the start ten years ago through to today there have been challenges, but Nyella has faced them all. And she has always taken it on herself to make new players – and their parents – feel welcome. This mirrors the approach her father has taken from the very first session.
Nyella has represented North London United at matches, tournaments and even pitchside at Emirates Stadium, but she has always excelled when showing guests what the group’s about. Whether it’s grabbing Leah Williamson by the hand to march her in to meet the group or showing Granit Xhaka her gymnastic poses, Nyella has always come into her own when championing the group to guests.
Nyella has made friends with every single young person to come through the doors for a North London United session, as well as every parent, member of staff and guest. Her enthusiasm, support and welcoming attitude is the best evidence for why the sessions have been so successful.
Throughout the ten years of the programme we have seen a lot of staff come and go – that’s the nature of coaching – with the only ever-presents being Harold and Mykel, who volunteer from North London United. The consistency of the coaching and the insistence on sticking to our values has meant that from the first member of staff from Arsenal to run a session up until today there has only ever been one approach: to put the players first. Inclusivity and consistency are the key pillars and every young person is championed and valued.
The group looks at supporting all areas: football, movement, communication or social. Nyella’s hard work and commitment have ensured she has seen amazing growth across all areas of her life, developing life skills transferable both to and from her football sessions.
Nyella’s ability to be a part of the club, to represent both herself and North London United, has always been a huge benefit for those involved in the group – she has been proud to showcase her passion to the fans and the wider world through social media, and long may that continue.
For more information email Luke Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org
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