“After the World Cup this summer, I was lucky enough to be invited to Jakarta, Indonesia to visit a football programme my club Arsenal run there with a charity called Save the Children.
The programme is called Coaching for Life and it uses football to help young boys and girls living in some of the most difficult places in the world learn about being mentally strong. It teaches them that even though they are young, their voices are important.
It was amazing to meet some of the young girls on the programme. Jakarta is so different to London but in some ways so similar. The first day we arrived I joined in with one of the sessions and I loved playing with the girls – even though it was so hot!
At that session I met a young girl called Diah who invited me the next day to visit her house. Walking through the streets of Jakarta to Diah’s house, I realised just how busy and close together everyone is, which made me really appreciate the open space of the pitches.
It felt like the pitches were a safe place for the young girls to go, have fun and just enjoy being kids. It made me really proud to play for Arsenal knowing that, even though we were on the other side of the world, we were still making such a positive impact on people’s lives.
It was amazing to meet Diah, who loved taking part in Coaching for Life and was a dedicated footballer, but she can tell you all about that…”
“To start with I wasn’t really good at playing football, but after I joined Coaching for Life, my mum said that I am getting better. Playing football makes me really happy. It has given me lots more confidence and made me a stronger girl.
So many boys told me I couldn’t play football. I don’t take them seriously. I feel determined to play football even better, because the boys are usually good players and this will be good so that even when we grow up men will not underestimate us.
The football has also given me the confidence and courage to try and change life in Jakarta for other girls in my community.”