Arsenal stars inspire after raising a record £385,000 at charity event
PUBLISHED: 20:19 13 May 2016 | UPDATED: 20:19 13 May 2016
Arsenal Ladies player Alex Scott speaks of her emotional trip to Iraq to see how pitches mean so much to displaced children.
Arsenal’s flagship annual fundraiser ‘A Night to Inspire’ raised a record total of over £385,000 on Thursday night (12) at Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger and the first team players were joined at the event by Arsenal Foundation ambassadors Bob Wilson and Liam Brady and celebrity guests including Dermot O’Leary, Raymond Blanc and Maverick Sabre.
Funds were raised to build three new football pitches in Jakarta, Indonesia with Save the Children, as well as to support a number of local causes. The total raised far surpassed the anticipated £120,000.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech said: “The foundation has been doing so many great things during the course of the whole year, and it is always good to give something back and support the charity because it’s important for everybody.
“Events like that are special, and hopefully we will reach the target in terms of the money we will get for the foundation.”
Chief executive of Arsenal FC, Ivan Gazidis said: “it’s a really important date in our year and we keep in a special place, and all the players make sure they come out as well. Everybody participates.
“It’s right across the whole club and that’s why it’s such a success every year. I’m so proud of what our club does, we have a long presence in our local community, and …we taking those programmes out all around the world, to some incredible places, displaced people’s camps in Iraq, so many people in this club are involved in that, and I’m proud of them all.”
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: “When you live in a comfortable world, you forget about how different life can be, how cruel life can be, and how much you can help as well.”
He added: “It is a special night for everybody here. It is a night we can show we are not only selfish about our passion, but as well that we care about other people and Arsenal is very proud of that.”
Arsenal Ladies captain Alex Scott made an emotional trip to Iraq recently to see the impact of pitches built by the foundation are having on those forced to flee their homes because of conflict, and recalled her experiences.
She said: “I know football means so much to them. It’s more than a football pitch; they can escape for a while.”
Alex added that it was an experience which would stay with her forever and that every time she spoke about it, she became “emotional - they are stuck there with nothing.”
She said it was devastating to see how people lived in the camps.
Her efforts were praised by Tanya Steele, interim chief executive of Save The Children, who said: “Alex has been extraordinary, not many people get on a flight and go to Iraq, so hats off to Alex that she did that.”
She added: “Also, she went there to meet with kids and to train and to play with them. What the Arsenal Foundation has done is build football pitches in some of the toughest places on the planet.
“And these are places that kids have got nothing. No hope, no inspiration. What Alex did utterly inspired these children through the power of football – it is truly transformative.”
• Arsenal Ladies were today (Friday) training hard at London Colney ahead of their Women’s FA Cup final clash against Chelsea Ladies at Wembley.
The pressure is on the team as Chelsea Ladies are defending their FA Cup title tomorrow (Saturday).
Arsene Wenger, at his press conference at the club’s training grounds in London Colney, wished the team luck, saying: “I’m a big supporter of our ladies team, because I have supported them since I arrived here.
“I wish them extremely well and I hope they come back with the cup.”
Tomorrow’s final kicks off at Wembley at 2pm, and is live on BBC1.