Communities

Arnautovic: I want to help people go the right way

17 Nov 2018
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West Ham striker attends a PL Kicks session as part of The Players' Project, a programme involving all Hammers players

West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic has experienced at first hand how football can help people take the right path in life.

Growing up in Vienna, Austria, the 29-year-old says life was not always easy.

"I didn't always have the best time," he told West Ham's website.

"I respect my family, I respect my mother and father as they always looked after me well, but I was the kind of kid who was not listening to them a lot!”

Arnautovic says some of the people he knew fell into trouble but it was football that prevented him from following them.

"After school was training and straight in the cage in the park playing football with my boys," he says.

"For me, it was never the case to go out and to drink or meet some people and stay out until three or four o'clock. For me, it was always football.

"I could have easily gone down the same road because it can happen to everyone."

Arnie the coach

Arnautovic was speaking after the launch of The Players' Project, in which all members of West Ham's men's and women's first-team squads will become an ambassador for an area of community work.

Because of his experiences, Arnautovic was selected to help deliver a special Premier League Kicks coaching session on the London Stadium pitch.

"They put me in the right group because I think I am an example of this," he said.

"When I see the kids training hard and how they look up to us, it makes me feel happy and I just want to give advice to everyone to go the right way and to do that is important.

"For me, the most important thing is to listen to advice."

Player involvement

PL Kicks, which uses football to engage young people in hard to reach areas, is one of the projects that will be included in The Players' Project.

All the players will work on projects that are important to them personally, as part of West Ham's commitment to creating opportunities, delivering a sporting legacy and changing lives in the community.

"The Players Project, we believe, is the most ambitious community campaign ever launched by a football club," says West Ham Vice-Chairman Karren Brady.

"Over the coming weeks and months you will see them manning food banks, visiting lonely people in our community, tackling the serious issues of obesity and diabetes and finding out how we can help turn the tide of knife crime that is the curse of not only Newham, but London too."

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