ONE of the world’s most famous football clubs has landed in Limerick to help local teenagers with their football and coaching skills.
Arsenal FC has recruited a handful of Limerick teens as part of their internationally-known Gap Programme, helping participants to use sport to “effect social change”.
It is the first time the year-long programme has taken its base outside of London.
As part of the course, the “gappers” will do complementary modules in Limerick Institute of Technology, engage in the Arsenal Community Programme and fly to other countries to teach football to children in disadvantaged areas.
Member of the Arsenal Community Programme, John Keyes, commended the locals for their hard work in the programme, which began in September.
“They are all well able to play soccer, and we all have a great understanding between each other,” he said.
“At the end of their programme, they will be qualified in both Kick Start one and two, and they will be able to teach numeracy and literacy in primary and secondary schools in other countries. They each get posted around the world, where they will coach football to kids in housing projects and the likes,” added Mr Keyes.
19-year-old Dylan Dore-Robinson, Carew Park, was the first Limerick man to take part in the Gap Programme in London last year, and as part of the programme he did work placements in Israel and Tanzania.
“It was an absolutely incredible experience when I did it over in England. I had never been away from home before - the longest I had ever been away from my parents was a week,” said the promising footballer.
“It was very tough for the first few weeks, but I learnt so much about myself and how to live. Not just my football skills, I have improved a whole lot, both mentally and physically. So now I know what my team has to go through,” Dylan reflected on his gapper experience.
Limerick FC chairperson, Pat O’Sullivan told the Limerick Leader that Dylan has been a “great influence” for future participants in the programme. He added that this complements Limerick’s football success.
LIT programme leader, Michael Mooring, said the programme’s educational philosophy had been admired worldwide by football professionals.