Arsenal ace Alex Iwobi makes extra time for young footballers
Gunners striker visits club community event – and dodges cheeky question on boss’s future!
31 March, 2017 — By Joe Cooper
Alex Iwobi with young footballers during an Arsenal Kicks session at Elthorne Park
ARSENAL star Alex Iwobi reminisced about his youth on the football field – and how far he has come – when he dropped into a training session in Elthorne Park.
The Gunners striker, who is one of the main faces of Arsenal in the Community, visited an Arsenal Kicks session, which has been running for 10 years, on Wednesday. The scheme helps keep young people out of trouble.
The Nigerian national, who grew up in Newham, told the Tribune: “It’s so weird because I used to be one of them [the young players]. I used to think, ‘I want to be a footballer!’ It’s weird now because people say I’m doing so well.
“It’s crazy when I see them all line up – I used to be doing that!”
The 20-year-old answered questions from eager young fans, where he named Santi Cazorla as the best Arsenal player and dodged the near-inevitable “Wenger in or Wenger out?” question from one cheeky youngster.
Presenting ‘Premier League Kicks Hero’ Dillon White with a framed comic book strip
Mr Iwobi presented Dillon White, who grew up playing through Arsenal in the Community, with a framed comic book strip that tells the story of his journey through the programme after he was recognised as a Premier League Kicks Hero.
Arsenal in the Community staff said he was an “outstanding example” to other young people.
Mr Iwobi added: “These sessions are great for them. You see how happy it makes them. It gives them a chance not just to be a footballer, but to become a physio or a coach, like Dillon.”
Mr White, 22, played on the Rosemary Gardens pitch, near Essex Road, as a youngster and is now a community coach delivering sessions all over the borough.
A lifelong Arsenal fan, he gets some stick from friends, especially in light of their recent patchy form.
“I just tell people, ‘stick with Arsenal’,” he said.
He added: “When I first got involved, it just felt good to be doing something football related with my team, Arsenal.
“But Kicks is about more than football. It’s a way of giving encouragement and support to people who might need it.
“It’s strange because now I am coaching some of the kids I grew up with, so we have a different relationship.”
The Premier League’s Kicks works to create safer, stronger and more respectful communities through the development of young people’s potential, while also giving them access to facilities, coaching and mentoring.