It makes me even more proud to play for The Arsenal knowing that the club takes such a keen interest in supporting events like World Down Syndrome Day.
At Arsenal, we have this afternoon every month, which is called Club Day. Basically, all the players are put forward to partake in various activities, more often than not for club partners and the like. We were coming to the end of this particular Club Day, when I met Ben and Emmanuel.
As part of Club Day, we occasionally get to help out with some of our community schemes. This was one of those occasions. As soon as I walked into this room next to our indoor hall, there were Ben and Emmanuel. The room instantly lit up. As soon as I met them, I couldn’t help but smile. In fact, I’m smiling now while writing this piece, as I recall what a laugh we had. We had a kick around together and I could see how much they enjoyed playing football. To tell you the truth, I really enjoyed it too. Moments like that are really special.
I didn’t have to wait too long to reintroduce myself to Ben and Emmanuel. I met them again at a pre-match presentation before the Southampton game back in February, along with more kids with Down syndrome who go to The Arsenal Hub on a Monday evening to take part in the training sessions put on by our community coaches.
It really was such a special moment for those kids to stand in front of all the fans at the Emirates. Seeing Ben’s face light up when he saw himself in a video on the big screen before the game was really a great moment. I remember saying to him: “You’re famous now, mate!” He was over the moon and it was such an honour for me to be a small part of the work our club are doing in the community. I really am immensely proud of the work Arsenal in the Community is doing, it’s what this club is all about.
What I want to make clear with this is just how important it is that fans with Down syndrome, fans like Ben and Emmanuel, know they are always welcome here at Arsenal.
I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all our fans with Down syndrome, both those who support from afar and those who are able to come to the games.
We are a big family at Arsenal, and you are all a big part of it.
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