Jack is a 14-year-old from Islington who enjoys being part of the Community Programme Open Access drop-in sessions…
“I started doing sessions with Arsenal in the Community at primary school about seven years ago. Through that I started doing a community outreach session near Upper Street and have now moved to The Arsenal Hub. I wasn’t aware of the sessions before we got involved, but since then I have looked to get involved in as many things as possible.
“I’ve always been an Arsenal fan, because of my grandad. I wanted to play as much as I could, so when I found out that I could play in the Arsenal programmes I was really excited.
“My favourite time with Arsenal was when some of the players came to an event I was at: Jack Wilshere, Mohamed Elneny and Calum Chambers. They took part in our activity day – the players all had a go on the ukulele.
“I’ve played for Arsenal in the Community at some tournaments, and the biggest was probably the trip to Chelsea’s training ground. There were some activity days where Arsenal arranged for different groups to come and deliver to us including music and dance. They have also given tickets to a lot of matches which is great, including the Arsenal Legends vs Real Madrid. I get on with everyone in my group – I know a few from school, but the ones I didn’t know before have all been really welcoming and supportive.
“When I first started the coaches were Dan, Luke and Dylan. Dan was with us right up until last year and Luke is still there. All the staff have been nice and really supportive, including the Hub staff who are welcoming every week.
“I love taking part in sessions. I look forward to it every week and was really glad when it came back after the break for Covid. It makes me happy to be involved at my football club and my grandad would be very proud of me for what I’ve achieved so far. I would definitely tell people to get involved – I have loved the last seven years and I’m very proud to be able to go and represent Arsenal.”
Luke Howard, Arsenal in the Community Disability Officer, says of the club’s relationship with Jack: “It has been a brilliant journey with Jack over the last seven years – a journey that has gone across multiple venues and projects. When we were speaking to Jack, it was really enjoyable remembering different things we’ve been involved in together and looking at how Jack and his mother, Karen, have grabbed hold of every opportunity that has come their way. Seeing the photos of Jack representing himself and the club with pride and the positive energy he brings to everything he does is great.
“The last couple of years have been tricky from all perspectives, but seeing how readily Jack and his mum jumped back into sessions as soon as they were up and running was really motivating for all of us, because it reminded everyone how much their programmes have been missed.”
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.