In the second installment of our new series, we’re looking at how Arsenal in the Community projects have helped and inspired young people to push themselves to new heights. Here, we find out how Quevin has gone from taking part in Kicks sessions to coaching and mentoring other youngsters.
“It all began through a friend’s invitation to the Arsenal Kicks sessions at the Elthorne Estate. I used to enjoy showing off tricks on the pitch, but it’s not only about your skills – it’s also about your personality both on and off the field. I could say I was a person who was quite talkative and occasionally prone to misbehaviour. But as time passed and I persisted in attending the sessions, I began to improve my football and develop into a more responsible person.”
This is the effect that Arsenal Kicks can have and has had on many local youngsters who get hooked and begin to look forward to every sessions. But Quevin’s journey didn’t end there.
“I eventually rose to the position of being a key participant who attended every session, and there were times when a new young person did attend that I became someone inspirational to them,” he says. “Sometimes a few people came to me asking how was I able to do such and such kind of skills, how am I so composed on the ball, and even out of the sessions people would say I’m very calm and easy to talk too. At one point, someone even expressed a desire to be like me.
“There were numerous occasions when Arsenal would arrange a football league on Saturdays at Market Road. They would also conduct Kicks tournaments and award free tickets to Arsenal games. Despite all of that, the experience I had when a group of us travelled to Southampton for a competition and finished in third place is the one that really stands out to me. But I also discovered from this experience that different people adapt to new environments quicker than others, so rather than blaming others for your own shortcomings you need to take an honest look at yourself and motivate both you and others to improve.”
Quevin was not only maturing through taking part in football, he was also feeling a stronger affiliation with the club that ran the sessions.
“As time passed I became interested in trying the steward job at Arsenal. I enrolled in a five-week course with Arsenal in the Community’s Jack Ferguson and learned that the job of a steward involves more than just standing around the stadium wearing a visible vest; it also involves protecting fans and even staff members.
“I was given the chance to do an interview, but I didn’t land the job. Then a second chance presented itself, to work in retail, although once more I was unable to land the position. Arsenal nevertheless provided me with another job option.”
Quevin was persistent and that persistence paid off when a coaching opportunity arose. Landing himself a role at Arsenal also allowed him to gain work experience at a local supermarket on Saturdays, which he looks back on as a good and useful experience. But it was coaching that fired him up.
“One of the reasons I even applied for the position of Arsenal community coach was because, when I was younger and attending football sessions, I saw other young people who were much older than me who were giving their time to help me and others around me on our football. To me, it felt like a brotherhood. That inspired me to do the same and it actually happened. In August 2021 I stopped by Woodberry Down with a friend and I met Ashley King, a fantastic coach as well as Arsenal’s social inclusion officer. He allowed me to volunteer to assist him in coaching. I volunteered for well over a year, and through that I was recognised for my commitment in supporting young people and being a role model.
“Ashley has helped me through my journey as a volunteer, and I am now a coach at Woodberry Down Estate, leading activities and taking responsibility for mentoring young people who are a similar age to what I was when I first started at Elthorne.
“Arsenal in the Community have massively supported my transition from a boy to a man, which is now the reason why I want to give back and work with young people to help them change their lives. Kicks is not just about winning games and showing off the skills you have – it’s an all-round support system that gives you opportunities to grow and develop as a person to be a better person in life.”
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