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Arsenal FC’s Charity Builds Community In North London, Abroad

Photo Courtesy Nelson Ndongala

Continuing our series about the English Premier League’s club charity work, we turn our attention to Arsenal FC. Although it pains our content producer — an avid Tottenham Hotspur supporter — to write a piece about its biggest rivals, he set aside his feelings when it comes to clubs doing community service. 

The Arsenal Foundation officially began operations in 2012, but the history page suggests the club was doing philanthropic work way before. It can trace charitable actions back to when the club was founded in 1886. 

Matchday program cards sold raised money for the charity Homes for Working Boys. The charity was set at Woolwich Grounds in South London, the former site of the Arsenal, before moving to Islington in 1913. Upon relocation, it donated money to the Great Northern Hospital of North London.

In 1985, Arsenal became one of the first professional English football clubs to establish a community football team. Local footballers would join matches as the club promoted social inclusion in a rapidly globalizing and diversifying England. It helped calm social unrest in London, the page says.  

Today, the Arsenal Foundation focuses on the health and well-being of its fans in the Islington, Camden, and Hackney districts in North London.

More than 5,000 people are directly affected by the foundation’s charity work. Education, conflict resolution, international aid, and social inclusion through sports are some campaigns the Gunners run.

Photo Courtesy Nelson Ndongala

We’ll focus on some of the highlights from the foundation’s recent philanthropic efforts. 

In 2019, the foundation and men’s first team held A Night To Inspire, raising money for Coaching for Life. This program is done in conjunction with Save the Children, the charity the club primarily works with. At the event, more than $547,000 (£428,000) was raised to improve the mental well-being of children affected by violent conflict. 

Coaching for Life is being carried out in Jordan and Indonesia. Its goal was to help more than 4,500 kids over three years. Girls and boys participated in seven different coaching sessions over 20-week cycles. It helped refugees find hope and practice their soccer skills away from the horrors of war. 

“Whether you’re a young person on one of our community programs in north London or part of our Academy, you’re part of the Arsenal family,” Per Mertesacker, Arsenal Academy manager after he visited Jordan in 2018, said in an article on “We take our responsibility as a club seriously.” 

At matchday against Manchester City on Dec. 15, 2019, the players and staff donated a day of wages to The Arsenal Foundation, benefiting the Coaching for Life program.

During the match, the men’s team wore a limited-edition shirt. Donation buckets circulated at the Emirates Stadium, and fans were encouraged to give what they could, too. This gesture is a long-standing tradition of Arsenal.  

Outside of these events and gestures, The Gunners Fund, which also launched in 2012, sponsors several activities for community building in the Islington, Camden, and Hackney areas. The foundation also works with Islington Giving to work with a group of businesses, residents, and volunteer organizations to tackle poverty and inequality. Programs like art classes, dance classes, film appreciation learning, and family outings connect the foundation to the community it serves. 

Photo Courtesy Chris Kursikowski 

Places to Play provides children living in underserved communities with a safe space to practice their soccer skills. These areas sometimes lack modern soccer pitches in London and abroad. Through Save the Children, Places to Play has worked in Iraq, Indonesia, Jordan, and Somalia. 

This past festive season, the men’s and women’s teams visited children’s hospitals to spend time with kids and their families in treatment.

Star players like Bukayo Saka and Laura Weinroither attended. The teams also worked with Arsenal Bowls, a community bowling league dedicated to social inclusion for elderly fans.

This January, the club worked with equipment supplier Adidas to wear a No More Red kit. The men’s and women’s teams donned an all-white kit. The kit raises awareness about knife crime in London. This initiative has been underway since January 2022, as the foundation continues to enhance the lives of Gunner faithful. 

“Young people face multiple challenges as they grow up in today’s world, and we don’t have all the answers, but we are confident that by acting together and shining a light on the support network available across our community, we can make a significant contribution to the lives of our participants,” Freddie Hudson, head of Arsenal in the Community, told Arsenal Media on 

Arsenal FC has always been one of the top clubs in England, and its charity work matches the team’s effort on the pitch.


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