JGs visit the training ground - Jerome's story!

JG Member Jerome won the chance to visit the Arsenal Training Centre in our JGs Go Behind The Scenes competition - find out what he got up to at London Colney...

"As I was on the coach on my long journey to London Colney I was surrounded by a variety of people of different genders, backgrounds and ages. We all had one thing in common -  “The Arsenal!”

I could hardly focus on my ham sandwich as I considered how the day would pan out. The journey was only about 45 minutes or so however time dragged on due to the excitement building and the anticipation on the coach.

As we began to arrive I noticed the London Colney Training Centre was located next to the Watford Training Centre. I felt like a professional Arsenal player as I got off the bus after what seemed like hours. Pumped with excitement, I high-fived our number 99, our mascot Gunnersaurus - hand to claw. A line formed as we walked onto the indoor astroturf pitch for everyone to take two penalty shots against Gunner. I had studied his form many times during the half time show at the Emirates with Nigel Mitchell. Confidently, I stepped up to take my shot... what followed still makes me cringe with embarrassment.. I misjudged the green legend and his size 20 Puma Boots as Gunner proceeded to save my first shot! Hmmm… maybe that Panenka wasn’t such a good idea against such a formidable opponent... The second penalty smashed straight into the top right hand corner. I really wanted to burst into celebration but quickly realised how stupid that must look!

We then went on to start our tour. We went into the entrance and had to wear shoe covers due to Arsene Wenger’s rule which he brought in from his former Japanese team, Nagoya Grampus Eight. The purpose of these are to keep out dirt, prevent illness or disease and to keep the floors clean. The rule has remained under the reign of Unai Emery.

Still keeping on the blue shoe covers we went into the clean and modern changing rooms. These had all of the players shirts, belongings and their own lockers for personal items. Directly opposite this were the team showers and physio treatment for use if players get injured or need to recover.

We then went into where all of the player's boots, gloves and other kit are stored. Most players had multiple pair of boots - I spotted three pairs for Aubameyang! I managed to get pictures of Auba’s and our new midfield maestro Dennis Suarez! The boots were extremely modern with texture and detail everywhere to improve the players performances. Ozil had the laceless pure controls to master his touch and Leno had extremely chunky gloves for extra grip.

We could finally take off our shoe covers as we went to see some of the Academy players and Women’s team players in the gym. You could really see the effort and how much hard work all the teams were prepared to put in for that valuable position in the first team. Some of the players were lifting really heavy weights.

After this we went to one of the outdoor training pitches. It is named after a former coach who unfortunately died while coaching the arsenal squad a few years ago.

Finally, we went into a media room where we had talks from three different people who are involved with Arsenal. First of all, Sam who works with the Arsenal players on their health and fitness. He is one of four people who have that role at Arsenal. He is responsible for the pre-match warm ups and makes sure the players are fit enough to play by measuring their work efforts and their diet etc. He said the hardest part of his job is making players do things that they don’t want to do such as staying back after training and doing more drills. He sometimes joins in with training himself if he needs to fill in for a missing player. He told us that whatever the players suffer, he suffers as well to prove that he’s not asking them to do anything that he can’t do himself. In his role it’s particularly important to have and build a good relationship with the players.

Next we had a talk from Arsenal Women’s striker Danielle Carter. She has won the FA cup with Arsenal along with a lot of previous major trophies. Her former club is Leighton Orient which is where she got scouted by Vic Akers for Arsenal. At the time she couldn’t join due to the fact that she was too young to travel by herself and her mum couldn’t take her to matches. I asked her what it is like to play for Arsenal? She responded that it’s home for her. Danielle is 25 and has been at Arsenal for ten years now. I also asked her what the most amount of goals is that she’s scored in a single game. The answer? Four in a UEFA Champions League game.

I found the final talk particularly fascinating as it covered a “behind the scenes” element of the club. It was about Nik who takes care of Arsenal’s social media platforms. He helped create the Aubamayang announcement video which ended up going viral. #YoPierre. Myself and Nik have a lot in common such as our love and passion for Arsenal, interest in media and enjoyed similar subjects at school such as English. There are ten people that work in a similar role to Nik and it’s their job to try and spread the Arsenal Way to all of our followers and supporters globally. I asked how they know what will engage their audience and how to keep them interested - “It’s hard to tell as sometimes things don’t turn out as you want and sometimes things turn out perfectly”. He also showed us some of his work and other Arsenal related media. I also asked him about other roles in the Arsenal media which I discovered include cameraman, designing match day programmes etc. A true insight.

Arsenal is in my blood and the London Colney trip is one I’ll never forget. If you get the chance to enter a competition then go for it!"

Jerome, 13.