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The young people I met focus on what is happening now…

Football in the Community uses the power of both the Clubs’ names and that of their players to try and positively impact the lives of people around world. The aim is usually to deliver sport, social and educational programmes.

One such programme that recently caught Banana Crumble’s attention was one being carried out in Syria by Arsenal Football Club in conjunction with Save the Children. Fully funded by The Arsenal Foundation the plan is to create a unique programme to improve the mental wellbeing of children affected by conflict and violence.

Over the last seven years, millions of children have been caught in the crossfire of the brutal war in Syria, witnessing horrors that no child should ever see. Syria has one of the worlds largest refugee camps that hosts nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees. More than half of its population are children and many have been living there for six years.

The Coaching for Life programme has been developed over the past 18 months, combining the Save the Childrens child protection expertise and Arsenal’s Community sports for development experience. Five football pitches have been built in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Syria and a further seven pitches have been built in Jakarta, Indonesia, where thousands of children are at risk of exploitation and violence in the city’s slums.

Former Arsenal captain and new Arsenal Academy Manager, Per Mertesacker, went out to Syria to launch the programme. Speaking in the refugee camp, Mertesacker said: “When children suffer, we all lose. People here have fled their country and I have no experience of that, so I talked to them and learnt a lot. It was a privilege for me to visit. The young people I met focus on what is happening now and this project will give them courage to cope with the struggles they face day to day, as well as providing them with the skills to have a better future”.

Banana Crumble think that this, amongst many others, is a fantastic initiative to help those in need. We will feature other projects from teams around the country throughout the season.

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