At the center of attention: the under-11s of the Borough of Islington |  Arsenal in the Community |  New

At the center of attention: the under-11s of the Borough of Islington | Arsenal in the Community | New

During the 2022/23 season we will hear from a wide range of local people who have benefited from Arsenal in community projects. Here we find out more about how ten-year-old Holly gained confidence on and off the pitch while playing for our Islington Borough district team.

Project: Islington Borough Under 11s

Established: 2022

Participants since the beginning: 16

Weekly speakers: 16

Sessions: Train weekly and play competitive matches regularly

Available for: Selected by Invitation/Trials

About the entrant: Holly is ten years old and comes from Islington. With support from the Gunners Fund – the Arsenal Foundation’s small grants program – she was able to pursue her passion for the game with a brand new team, Islington District Under-11s Girls.

Participant Holly says…

“My older brother also plays for Islington District and we heard about the women’s team from one of the coaches. Then my school coach also sent me a letter about it. I played in my school team when we represented Arsenal in the Premier League Primary Stars Competition final at Watford this year.

“I really, really wanted to be part of the district team! It was so exciting to think that I could meet and play with other girls like me, and I thought that would be a great experience for me.

“I’m lucky to play on a good boys’ team, but they were all talking about the Year 6 district drafts and I was upset there wasn’t a girls’ district team. I was ecstatic when I heard they were starting one and am very grateful to James, Ellen and Will for their work.

“The first time I went to practice I was super excited. I had met some brilliant girls during tryouts and was looking forward to seeing new friends, but I was also happy that some of my school and club teammates also came in. The games were great and I really enjoyed the Arsenal five-a-side tournament at the Hub. I love training because I’m learning so much and having fun a lot.

“I feel like I made some very special friends very quickly. We bonded really well and that made us a strong team where we all support each other. I think that really helps us play well. together – I really didn’t think I would make such a brilliant group of friends so quickly.

“The staff are always great fun and do a lot to help us enjoy the games too. James taught me a lot about respect in football – for your teammates, the opponent and the referee. Will has been an amazing coach and I’m learning so much – he tells me to trust my teammates. Ellen is the best and helped me feel better when I missed a penalty. She is so positive and encouraging.

“Being in the district team made me a better player and increased my confidence. I only play defense in the boys’ team, but in the district teams I had the chance to play in midfield and as a striker. It made me believe that I could do more things than I thought I could, on and off the pitch. I’m also learning new communication skills that will help me to be a supportive and positive co-captain.

“My new communication skills have helped me at school and I feel more confident overall. It means so much to be involved at Arsenal as I support the team and we have season tickets for Arsenal Women. I really want to play for them when I grow up!

For more information email James Warnock at

Copyright 2022 Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to proper credit being given to as the source.

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