Former Arsenal star hosts summer project for youngsters

PUBLISHED: 16:00 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:46 30 August 2017

Youngsters had lots of fun at the FC Gio camp (pic Fiston Manuella Photography)

Youngsters had lots of fun at the FC Gio camp (pic Fiston Manuella Photography)


Former Arsenal footballer Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s summer project helped instill a winning mentality in Islington youth.

Youngsters were all smiles at the FC Gio camp in north London (pic Fiston Manuella Photography) Youngsters were all smiles at the FC Gio camp in north London (pic Fiston Manuella Photography)

The former Dutch skipper teamed up with the Arsenal Foundation and local partners to host a free summer programme for young people in the Islington area.

The project, called FC GIO, took place over five days and offered free healthy breakfast, lunch, and daily sporting and education sessions to give young people a vital boost when they need it most.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst said: “I’m delighted that FC GIO was such a fantastic experience for everyone involved, especially our young players.

“One of the keys to my success as a footballer and manager was the knowledge that, by always trying your best and never giving up, you can be the master of your own destiny.

Youngsters enjoyed a range of activities at the FC Gio camp (pic Fiston Manuella Photography) Youngsters enjoyed a range of activities at the FC Gio camp (pic Fiston Manuella Photography)

“I am very proud of my FC GIO players for working so hard, trying new things and giving it their all.

“Of course, we all face hard times in life, but I hope that FC GIO has taught them that it is precisely at those times you must set your own course and be the captain of your own ship.”

FC GIO included daily boxing and footballing sessions, which were combined with an intensive mentoring programme to help young people recognise the importance of setting challenging yet achievable goals for both short and longer-term aspirations.

“I am really grateful for everyone who made this possible, including our brilliant coaches who worked so hard and helped our players build such a positive mentality,” he added.

“FC GIO was a way for me to thank the whole Arsenal family, including our fantastic fans, for supporting me during my time at the club.

“I am honoured to have partnered with my old club for this project and I wish you the very best for this season.”

Kat Craig, CEO of Athlead and project manager for FC GIO, added: “FC GIO’s aim was to broaden young people’s horizons and help them plan for and experience success - whatever success means for them.

“At the beginning of the project, we talked about our players’ hopes and dreams, and then helped them break down those dreams into concrete goals.

“Throughout the week, our coaches used the sporting sessions to acknowledge and praise achieving those increasingly challenging goals.

“The outcome was that our players reported a rise in confidence and in their ability to overcome setbacks.

“They realised that you need determination and persistence to achieve your dreams, and also that being kind and encouraging your peers builds a support network and positive culture in which everyone can thrive.

“It’s been incredible to see what a hugely positive impact a carefully designed programme led by a footballing hero can have.

“We really hope this project will encourage other footballers and pro athletes to support similar programmes in the future.”


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“With teenagers there’s a lot of banter, and you can really establish a relationship. You have to trust teenagers to make their own decisions.”

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