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Former Arsenal ace hosts free camp for Islington youngsters

PUBLISHED: 12:30 11 August 2017

Former Arsenal star Gio Van Bronckhorst with youngsters at a previous camp (pic Arie Kievit)

Former Arsenal star Gio Van Bronckhorst with youngsters at a previous camp (pic Arie Kievit)

Arie Kievit

Van Bronckhorst teams up with Arsenal Foundation and partners in FC GIO project

Former Arsenal star Gio Van Bronckhorst with youngsters at a previous camp Former Arsenal star Gio Van Bronckhorst with youngsters at a previous camp

Former Arsenal footballer and Dutch skipper Giovanni Van Bronckhorst has teamed up with the Arsenal Foundation and local partners to host a free summer programme for at-risk youngsters in Islington next week.

The project, called FC GIO, will deliver a fun, free five-day sports-based education and life skills programme, which gives young people a vital boost when they need it most.

From August 14-18, FC GIO will welcome over 30 young people transitioning from primary to secondary school. Every day, they will take part in boxing and football sessions to learn discipline, teamwork and communication.

Through one-to-one mentoring, they will start to acquire core life skills such as resilience, self-control, optimism, self-confidence and conscientiousness, with the programme also including free, nutritious meals.

FC GIO will also offer a specially designed “Dutch Edition” of Arsenal’s innovative Double Club education programme which combines football and learning.

Other sessions include an introduction to the range of professions and opportunities on the young people’s doorstep, through company visits and workshops with local professionals.

Van Bronckhorst said: “When I played for Arsenal, the fans made me and my family feel very welcome. This is my small way of saying “thank you” to the club and the fans.

“When I was growing up I always knew I wanted to be a footballer. Having such a clear goal is hugely valuable, but it can also be a challenge. At FC GIO, like our flagship programme in Holland, we want to help young people build a great future for themselves - whatever it is they want to do in life.

“We help them discover their own potential and nurture their confidence and sense of self-worth. We expand their view of the world, and teach them to set their own goals in life so they have something to aim for.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have won some of the biggest competitions in football. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. But I find the work I do with my Foundation equally rewarding. I would invite any other sportsmen and women who want to help their community to come and visit FC GIO and see what an amazing difference we, as professional athletes, can make to people’s lives. It’s a legacy of which I’m extremely proud.”

Kat Craig, CEO of Athlead and project manager for FC GIO, added: “Islington is a borough where London’s richest and poorest residents live side-by-side. It is

shocking that it hosts such affluence while also having one of the highest child poverty rates in London.

“We need innovative projects like FC GIO to give children the best chance of success in life. And we need our sporting heroes’ support: their involvement can be such a source of inspiration and hope.

“We’d love to see more projects like this across the country: with players, clubs and local organisations banding together to share their expertise and resources. These are hard times for many people, but together we can bring about positive change.”

FC GIO is a joint project between the Giovanni Van Bronckhorst Foundation, sports philanthropy consultancy Athlead, local charity Access to Sports and the Arsenal Foundation.

FC GIO also received generous support from the GLL Community Foundation and Life Skills created by Barclays.

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“I try and do my best to enhance the young person’s capabilities. I’m very focused on their education, their wellbeing and their cultural needs.”

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