Arsenal helps put Limerick youth in premier position

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil

Arsenal plan to give a premiership feeling to young people in Limerick by motivating them through the club’s unique community programme which it is now branching outside London for the time.

The Arsenal Gap Programme maps out social change in deprived communities by getting young people into soccer and helping them with classroom literacy skills.

Arsenal have joined forces with Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Limerick FC, and Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership, and yesterday launched the club’s first such programme outside London.

Ten young people have been chosen and over the coming 12 months they will study fitness ( allied with subjects at LIT), undergo an intensive programme in soccer coaching, and work with children in Limerick and African countries.

One of those selected for the programme, Hayleigh Power, is from Southill and now lives in Corbally.

Hayleigh, 19, said: “From Monday to Friday, we work out on coaching on the college astra turf and do coaching lessons with primary and secondary schools.

“We went to Arsenal two weeks ago and met the people there. I want to get involved with communities in Limerick and show kids there are other ways to get through life other than crime and drugs and violence.

“This programme will help put a smile on kids faces. We will all go abroad for a while as part of the programme. I am going to Johannesburg in January for 12 weeks. While there, I will work in an orphanage coaching kids in soccer. I will come back to Limerick for two weeks before going abroad again to work with kids in another country for 16 weeks.

“I hope to do some coaching in Moyross and Southill. Eventually, I plan to come back to LIT and do a full-time course in the area of health, sport, and coaching.”

Dylan Dore, 19, from Carew Park, Southill, recently completed his Arsenal programme having done work/community placement stints in Israel and Tanzania. “I have just had the best year of my life on this programme,” he said.

“I got to see and do things which were beyond my wildest dreams and come out it with a coaching badge at the same time.”

The Arsenal Gap Programme has, since its inception in 2007, recruited and trained more than 100 coaches and engaged with over 100,000 young people across 16 countries on 4 continents.

The Limerick programme has a unique feature as it is the first time participants will receive academic accreditation thanks to a special education module written by LIT.


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