The man who has been at the heart of Arsenal Football Club’s ground-breaking community programmes has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list with an MBE.
Alan Sefton, who has led the Arsenal in the Community department since 1986, has received the award for “services to Education and to Young People in the UK and abroad.”
Arsenal chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, said: “This is much deserved recognition for Alan and his team who have done outstanding work in the community.
"At Arsenal we fully understand the impact we can have on people’s lives and Alan and the Arsenal in the Community team have been the driving force behind many projects which have transformed the fortunes of many in Islington and beyond.”
"I am delighted but this is recognition for all the hard work of so many people. We continue to work hard to make a difference"
Alan joined the club from Sport England in 1986 and he said: “I am delighted but this is recognition for all the hard work of so many people. We continue to work hard to make a difference and meet the needs of people in the borough and beyond."
Arsenal in the Community programmes are directly aligned to areas of identified need. Over the years, the club has developed community programmes across a range of areas which deliver both sporting and social outcomes. Projects range from sport and education, to health and social inclusion which are often a springboard to training and employment.
There are now 159 different venues operating Arsenal in the Community programmes with more than 5,000 people benefiting each week.
In recent years, Arsenal in the Community’s outreach work has taken place on a range of community facilities including estates and parks - offering local young people the opportunity to play football and take advantage of further education, social inclusion and routes to employment.
Contributions made by The Arsenal Foundation have supported the upgrading of 12 pitches and spaces, creating more places to play football and engage young people.
Alan said: "It's all about realising the power of football, the influence of football and the part it plays in people's lives is no less now than it was 30 years ago. That power enables you to do those other things away from the sport. Arsenal really do get involved in the nitty gritty. It's about being at the heart and soul of the community."
Looking to the future Alan admits the range of community involvement will grow. He said: "It all started with our old JVC community centre and I’m delighted that we will be opening a new centre to serve the community early in 2015.
“The work will probably double over the next 30 years. The privilege, and also the responsibility, of working in this sector for Arsenal is that people, from all walks of life, want to be associated with the club and feel that Arsenal can, somehow, enhance what they are doing. That’s what we aim to do.”
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