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 Gabriel has grown closer to the club he loves through our Positive Futures programme.
Project: Positive Futures – Westbourne Estate
Participants since starting: 300-plus
Weekly participants: 15-20
Sessions: Every Wednesday at the Westbourne Estate, N7
Available to: Local young people aged eight to 11
About the participant: Gabriel, 12, is from Islington and has become a regular at Arsenal in the Community’s Positive Futures sessions at the Westbourne Estate.
Participant Gabriel says: “I first became aware of Positive Futures – although I didn’t know what it was at first – as I was walking past my local football pitch in my area around the Westbourne Estate. I saw a football session happening and it looked like people around my kind of age were playing. I asked my mum if I could play. I had to tell my friends from school and told everyone I knew who lived close by about this football session and got them to join the project too. Then we could all play together.
“I had loads of energy as a kid and I found it really difficult to focus sometimes. Because of this I would always get in lots of trouble at school. Coming onto this project allowed me to put my energy into something and I was able to release that energy into doing something productive.
“I really enjoy the mini-tournaments that I’ve been involved in at Positive Future sessions – I just love playing in matches! I love Football Plus sessions because it’s really competitive, and a recent highlight for me was that I was lucky enough to meet some of Arsenal’s Under-18s Academy players. They planned a coaching session for us as they were doing their coaching qualification and delivered us a football session at London Colney.
“My favourite coaches are coach Raph, coach Anthony and coach Aarron. They’ve improved me as a player and taught me to be confident in my abilities. I could also speak to them about other things going on in my life and I felt safe and comfortable to talk to another person who wasn’t my parent or teacher.
“I have always supported Arsenal and I’ve been really lucky to be involved with so many different projects at the club, so it makes me really feel part of the Arsenal family and I’m proud to wear the badge and represent the club too. My sister was really nervous to go for the first time but now she comes regularly, and she loves it so I would recommend you at least give it a try – you might like it and you’ll make some new friends too.”
Gabriel’s mother Guilene says: “When Gabriel first joined the sessions at Westbourne I was just happy that it was a free and easy to join session – there was no need for expensive kits or memberships. I was very quickly impressed by the level of coaching during these sessions.
“The coaches, Anthony, Aarron and Raph, support the children to develop their football skills but also their physiological, emotional and social skills. A lot of things happen on a pitch beyond just kicking a ball.
“Gabriel’s sisters have also joined the sessions, and the whole coaching team constantly makes sure that all the girls feel welcome. Arsenal in the Community really feels like a family.”
For more on the impact of Positive Futures click here
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