'I am proud to play a part in helping next generation'

11 Apr 2017
Dillon White, Arsenal Kicks Hero

Arsenal in the Community's Premier League Kicks Hero Dillon White on his journey from participant to coach

When Dillon White first became involved with Arsenal’s Premier League Kicks programme, taking part in sessions after school, he was hoping for a career as a player.

“Football was my number one thing that I wanted to do when I grew up,” he says. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be successful in it.

“When I first got involved, it just felt good to be doing something football-related with my team, Arsenal.

“But Kicks is about more than football. It’s a way of giving encouragement and support to people who might need it.”


Now Dillon is now one of the project’s coaches, passing on the expertise and advice that he benefited from himself.

“As an Arsenal in the Community coach now, I’m proud to be playing my part in that for the next generation.

“Kicks has been very important to my success from a young age. I’ve adapted myself in many different ways and I feel much more confident now. It’s about giving back to the community at the end of the day.”

Dillon has seen for himself how the Kicks programme can help young people, in the same way that it helped him.

Dillon White comic strip
Dillon has been presented with a personalised comic strip which tells his story

“I simply wanted to play football on a decent pitch and in a safe environment," he told the Islington Gazette. "I could never have imagined, all these years later, that I’d be working for Arsenal in the Community.

“Arsenal Kicks has given me a platform to grow from, a purpose and drive to succeed, and an appreciation of what it takes to work within the local community and how to assist the needs of the local young people who take part.”

The PL Kicks programme has engaged more than 180,000 young people since it was launched in 2006.

Jack Ironside, Arsenal’s community development officer, says Dillon represents a good example of what the Kicks programme is about.

“We supported him in a number of different ways – mentoring, providing him with some qualifications, some personal development workshops and then on to some employment," Ironside says. "We’re very proud of what he’s achieved.”

Alex Iwobi, Arsenal in the Community
Arsenal's Alex Iwobi joins in with a session

Dillon has been named Arsenal’s PL Kicks Hero, and first-team star Alex Iwobi came to a PL Kicks session to present him with a comic strip specially designed by Marvel and DC Comics artist John McCrea, which tells his story.

“He deserves an award like this,” says Iwobi. “To be able to influence kids to do things like this and probably grow into something better than he is, it’s just amazing.

“It gives them the chance to not just develop football skills but also develop into a young man or young woman, so it guides them on the right path for their future.

“I believe things like this are very helpful for young teenagers and kids around London.”

See: Dillon's PL Kicks comic strip

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