At the top they are taking their first steps back towards the big time under Unai Emery.
At grass roots level Arsenal are continuing to support the coaches aiming to shape the next generation of potential young Gunners.
There were no frills about the coaching clinic held in Shepherd’s Bush for around fifty children this month. Just enthusiasm, energy and an education for the kids encouraged to leave their PlayStations and Xboxs behind in favour of real-life coaching drills and fun in the sun.
The day is backed by Cover-More, the official travel insurance partner of Arsenal. It is structured and well-run with guidance and attention for every attendee.
It is overseen by Arsenal coaches but initially led by the Little Foxes Club, an outfit catering for kids as soon as they can kick a ball.
James Long, Head of Youth Development at Foxes FC said: “We are a supportive coaching company based in central and west London.
“We do multiple sports, football being our main one. We coach in schools as well as in the community. We’re coaching around 3000 kids a week at the moment, including all our programmes.
“We operate in places like Holland Park, Hyde Park and in Fulham, Ealing and Acton at the weekend. During the week we do some after school sessions as well.
“The schools are more where people contact us and ask us to do their sport programme. We start children from as young as 18 months believe it or not.
“We have little footballs for them to kick and get them running through hoops and things like that. Its really good fun. A lot of our business is from the 18 month to five years old-pre-school age.
“We work in nurseries as well. In terms of the football side of things, once a child gets to six years old and they want to play in a football team they come through to Foxes FC – We’ve got 17 teams altogether so they can play from under-7s to under-14s.”
Tom Hartley, Arsenal Soccer Schools Coach added: “Arsenal values are about being together and always moving forward.
“That counts on and off the pitch. As well as creating good players we want to help create good people as well. Thats a big link to Foxes FC as well.”
The Skills School could have been filled three times over. A reminder that kids are no longer content simply to sit on their sofas in front of their games consoles.
“It’s a different world now,” said Hartley. “Even to what it was five or six years ago in terms of participation and the other things that kids could do. Especially in the school holidays .
“But every person here today has come with a fantastic attitude. They want to play, enjoy themselves and have fun. There is not one child talking about: ‘I’d rather be doing this or that.’ Its all about enjoying their football and having a good time.
“This kind of work gives a brilliant opportunity to inspire the next generation of young players, whether they go on to play professionally or not. Its great to help players develop firstly their football skills and also their confidence.
“Also to help develop the coaches of the future as well. So that they continue to create the right environment for young people to want to come and play the game.”
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