Arsenal Saturday feature: Dedicated Gunners help boost growth of girls football
- Credit: Archant
For pupils and teachers the prospect of returning for start of the academic year may be a challenging thought after a long, hot summer, but at a school in Stevenage this week it’s been smiles all-round as talented Arsenal coaches came to visit.
Marriotts School in the North Herts town hosted representatives from the London giants in a bid to help spread the gospel of women’s football.
The two-day course has been backed by sister club, Bedwell Rangers, near neighbours to the more well-known Hitchin Belles, who have strong ties with the Gunners after an official link-up last term.
It might be the end of summer but there were no jaded faces as 30 eager girls aged nine and ten assembled on a sunny morning under crisp blue skies.
Intrigued parents also stayed to watch the start of the training session on astroturf which ran from 10am to 3pm, broken up with regular drinks breaks and a well-earned lunch for the sporty youngsters.
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At the start of the session, Arsenal coaches Scott Bloom, Teng Deng, Alexi Mavroudis and Dan Vella take charge of the girls and quickly get to work, sharing their coaching expertise with the aim of developing new skills in a welcoming atmosphere.
The Islington Gazette grabbed a few words with busy Scott.
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The good-natured coach explained: “The three main things we’re trying to get across to the girls is that they have fun, that they may learn a few new skills they can take into their games as players, and thirdly, that they can make new friends.
“As long as those three things are met we at Arsenal are happy.
“Women’s football is growing every year and we want to be at the forefront of leading the women’s game, and making it accessible for every girl who wants to get involved.
“Our coaches here are community coaches too. They do a lot of work in schools and with our sister clubs. We just want to inspire girls to love the game. That’s what we’re here for.”
The coaching program has an emphasis on developing young people as well as players.
The club wants every girl attending to learn new skills and techniques, but also get better at making quick decisions, working with others and playing with confidence – skills that will help them on and off the football pitch.
There is an emphasis on this because Arsenal’s focus is on developing good people, as well as good players, at every level of the club.
Quite simply the North London giants’ Soccer Schools aim to encourage students to ‘Play the Arsenal Way’ with an unforgettable experience at various bases in the South East.
Dedicated Scott added: “I’ve come from a completely different background. I was a mortgage advisor for ten years.
“About three yeas ago I managed to follow my dream and now work in football with the club I adore and love - this is my life now.
“We now have more than 25 sister clubs, and this season have launched our own international Sister Club Programme, where any grassroots club from around the world can get involved. We hope to improve the impact and reach of our work year on year.”
“We had 30 girls today, we’ll have the same number tomorrow. It’s just fantastic.
“Our holiday courses run throughout the summer. We had six run in Cambridge, Bedford and Stevenage. We’ll be looking to run a few more in the October half-term.”
The new women’s season is set to kick-off on the second week of September with Arsenal hosting Liverpool at Boreham Wood.
The Arsenal Women’s side are the most successful English club, having lifted an incredible 44 major trophies in 31 years including a pair of Women’s Soccer League titles,
Prior to the rebranding they lifted 12 Premier League trophies as well as 14 FA Cups.
The enthusiastic Scott, who clearly loves what he does, as do the other coaches, adds: “Arsenal Women are part of the same brand. They’re not separated.
“We’ve got the men’s first team, the academy and the women. We’re all part of one big family.
“I’m living the dream. To be able to coach football is so much better than working in an office.”
As the squad of happy youngsters file away, eagerly sharing their memorable experiences with proud mums and dads, ahead of another day’s training, Scott smiles and adds: “The sun’s shining, we’ve got a lot of happy faces - what more could you want?”
For more on the Gunners October half-term courses visit Arsenal.com.
Follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29 for his extensive coverage on all levels of the club.