First graduates of Arsenal’s employability programme
Arsenal stars Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere
Published: 25 May, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON
ARSENAL stars showed their appreciation of each other last Thursday as team-mates splashed out thousands of pounds on colleagues’ signed memorabilia at an auction in aid of the Gunners’ charity.
The suited-and-booted footballers were attending the annual charity ball hosted by the club at the Emirates Stadium. Guests – including the first team and manager Arsène Wenger – tucked into a menu designed by top chef Raymond Blanc. They were entertained by chart-toppers Rizzle Kicks and splashed out in an auction led by Sotheby’s Philip Hook. They later danced to tunes mixed by DJ Judge Jules.
The event raised more than £250,000 – or three weeks’ wages for Robin van Persie – for the newly-inaugurated Arsenal Foundation, which helps young disadvantaged people.
Dinner with Arsène Wenger fetched £20,000, and a signed boot belonging to Gunners legend Thierry Henry was snapped up by van Persie for £13,000.
Yossi Benayoun splashed out £5,000 for the signed shirt that van Persie wore when he scored his 100th goal for the club.
To complete an outstanding evening of generosity, Arsène Wenger pledged £25,000 and each member of the first-team squad a further £1,000, to help fund the creation of two emergency classrooms for Arsenal’s global charity partner, Save the Children.
The club also celebrated the graduation of the first tranche of students from its employability programme.
The eight-week course saw young people not in education or employment – so-called NEETs – trained in the kind of skills they will need to find work. These include interview techniques and time management.
The course was developed with the support of education company Pearson and City and Islington College. The training was delivered at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and in community centres on surrounding estates.