The Arsenal Foundation will donate £1m to build football pitches for children in London, Jordan and Somalia thanks to The Arsenal Foundation Legends Match at Emirates Stadium on September 3.
The match sees Arsenal Legends including Robert Pires, David Seaman and Freddie Ljungberg face ‘Milan Glorie’ which includes Rossoneri legends Paolo Maldini, Ibrahim Ba and Cafu. The football legends are coming together to raise money to develop football pitches and programmes local to Emirates Stadium and in camps for refugees and internally displaced young people in Jordan and Somalia.
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The match is set to be a 60,000 sell out and all net proceeds will contribute to the £1m fund for the projects. To date, working with Arsenal in the Community and Save the Children, The Arsenal Foundation has helped develop 14 pitches locally and recently opened two pitches in Iraq for internally displaced people.
Earlier this year, Arsenal Ladies Captain, Alex Scott visited the two pitches funded by The Arsenal Foundation in Iraq and spent time training young girls there. Arsenal Foundation Ambassador, Martin Keown - who is also set to feature in the match - visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan in 2013 and heard devastating stories from children who have been affected by the conflict across the border in Syria.
The Arsenal Foundation has seen the impact football pitches can have on a community. They provide a safe place to play, a chance for them to escape challenging circumstances, the opportunity to establish friendships, develop skills, build confidence and can provide a route to other services and opportunities. They are catalysts for community life and use the Arsenal name to motivate young people to fulfil their potential.
Arsenal Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, said: “It’s important that football and clubs like Arsenal use the global passion for the game to make a difference. This game gives us all a chance to create something very special here on the doorstep of Emirates Stadium and in places where children are fleeing war and drought.
"Using the Arsenal name and football as a motivating force, the club - together with its supporters, returning legends and visitors from Milan - are helping to fund pitches in places where children are living in challenging circumstances.
"These children are often football fans. The game is part of the joy of their childhood. In some places, so much of that joy has been stripped away by what they’re going through, but football pitches provide them with a place they can play, where they can be children again and do something they love.
"We are sending a message to them that Arsenal cares about them and we hope this can be a motivating force and give them hope in desperate times.”
Tanya Steele, Interim Chief Executive at Save the Children added: “The legends’ match is a chance to celebrate football’s ability to excite, inspire and entertain. It’s a day to recognise the power of football to improve the lives of vulnerable children.
"For these children, the new playing surfaces will be much more than just pitches. For a kid whose life has been torn apart by war, it’s a safe place to play, to make new friends – and to be a child again.
"Arsenal is a force for good, giving children hope and inspiring them to believe that they can fulfil their potential.”
Thanks to money raised from the legends’ match, The Arsenal Foundation will build five football pitches in Jordan and two in Somalia in partnership with Save the Children. Arsenal in the Community will also receive further funding to develop and upgrade pitches in Islington and neighbouring boroughs where its work reaches over 5,000 people every week.
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