More than a game

'Dream big. Dream really, really big' - Saka inspires next generation

26 Feb 2024

Arsenal star attends PL Kicks sessions to share his journey from local pitches to the Premier League

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Dreaming big, aiming high and working hard to achieve your ambitions is something Bukayo Saka can relate to.

As a young boy, Arsenal star Saka would practice his football skills for hours outside his house and on local pitches in Ealing.

Now the 22-year-old is inspiring the next generation to follow in his footsteps.

As the Premier League celebrates its "More than a game" campaign, Saka visited Premier League Kicks sessions in north London to tell young people in the community that anything is possible.

"I know where I came from, they know where I came from and the journey," says Saka. "It's really special.

"[At the age of] Around five or six, that's when I started to play constantly, almost every single day. I couldn't stop playing. My parents raised me to be respectful to others, to every day work hard.

"Dream big. Dream really, really big. Only you yourself know how much work you put it, so when you get the rewards it's nice."

'Saka makes anything possible'

Saka, who joined Arsenal's Hale End academy at the age of seven, made his first-team debut under Unai Emery at the age of 17, and by October 2020 had been capped at senior level by England.

His journey is one that participants at PL Kicks sessions, which uses the power of football to help young people reach their potential, dream about making. Now thanks to Saka, they believe it could be a reality too.

"I look at Bukayo Saka, and it's just amazing. I feel like he sets the pathway for us - he's done it, so why can't we? He makes anything possible," said PL Kicks participant Michael.

"I look at him and I'm like, you know what, I want to be someone like him," said Morray.

"It's great to have a role model who relates to us. Bukayo Saka is talented, he's from London, he's young and he plays for the team I love," said Jamir.

What is Premier League Kicks?

The Premier League has invested £81.6m into PL Kicks, which has engaged more than 520,000 young people, delivering over 1million hours of free sessions at 4,900+ venues across England and Wales.

Sessions take place in some of the most-high-need areas, with 90 clubs currently delivering the programme.

More than 21,000 volunteers have helped on Kicks, 93 per cent of whom are former participants, with 20 per cent of the workforce former participants.

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