Exclusive: Alex Scott speaks about her trip to Iraq

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Alex Scott Iraq

Earlier this month, Arsenal Ladies captain Alex Scott visited a camp in Khanaqeen, Iraq for children and families who have been forced to flee their homes due to war. Alex visited a football project funded by The Arsenal Foundation, in partnership with Save the Children, who have funded two artificial football pitches for young people living in the camps.

During the visit, Alex talked with some of the young girls who had lost their homes, the footage certainly made for emotional viewing. Immediately after Arsenal Ladies’ recent match against Reading Women, Tim Stillman caught up with Alex Scott to learn more about her journey to Khanaqeen.

“It was last year when I first sat down with Save the Children and Arsenal and they asked me whether I would be willing to go,” Scott explains, “I went away and thought about it, they told me I could have some time to think. I talked it over with my friends and family and I decided it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.”

The England full-back confesses that it was a hint of scepticism that made her mind up to go, “Some people didn’t want me to do it,” she admits, “Someone said something to me that totally changed my mind. They said, ‘why do this when you don’t have to?’ and I thought, ‘if everyone had that attitude, nobody would be helping these children or giving them any sort of hope.’ I knew then that I had to do it.”

31 year old Scott says the visit has given her new perspective, “Those children inspire me, they’re people just like you and me, but born into circumstances beyond their control, but they still have their hopes and dreams.

“I didn’t realise how disconnected I was,” she reflects, “You see Iraq on the news and you don’t think enough about it. I got upset so often during the visit because I couldn’t believe the living conditions and what these children go through every day, now I have seen for myself just how awful it is.”

Alex admits that the visit was intentionally kept secret for safety reasons, illustrating the dangerous conditions for the families that live there, “I flew back from the She Believes Cup in America on the Friday and flew out to Iraq on the Saturday. I was back to train with Arsenal on the Monday. It was a quick turnaround, but it needed to be kept like that for safety reasons.”

Scott grew up playing cage football with her brothers in a working class district in East London and she hopes that the pitches can offer the children in Khanaqeen an escape, “That cage in the East End was where I first had my hopes and dreams,” she explains, “The kids told me that they forget their problems and their troubles when they step onto that football pitch. Football can’t solve all of their problems, but the smiles on their faces when they were playing will stay with me.”

Scott also visited a favela in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 to promote the Street Child World Cup. It’s fair to say that there’s a theme in much of her charity work, “I’m so lucky to do what I do for a living. Arsenal plucked me from a football cage at the age of 8. It means a lot to me to spend time with these kids and football is very powerful for them. I hope I can give back through football, that it can help them improve their situation.”

The Arsenal Foundation

The Arsenal Foundation aims to transform the lives of young people through a range of education and sport initiatives in the UK and overseas. For more information, visit www.arsenal.com/thearsenalfoundation

Save the Children

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries and helps to save children’s lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential. For more information visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk

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14 Comments on "Exclusive: Alex Scott speaks about her trip to Iraq"

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Arsene-al fan

Good for her. Makes me/most of us realise how lucky we are.

SGP_GNR

Yes, she didn’t have to, but she did. Thanks for being there, Alex!

Jack Lewis

Well done Alex, more of us need to do stuff like this to realize how small our problems really are. I have a lot of respect for her for this. More footballers should do it.

Roy

Well done Alex!

Festa

Refugees AND economic migrants

Spuduhate

Good stuff Alex.

Hedgehog

Great footballer and person much much much kudos.

Paul

The lack of comments on this and the last post about the same subject is interesting, worrying and strange imo.
Any ideas about this anyone?

Naz

I was born in the UK but was a child of an Iraqi migrant father. I’m proud that we are doing stuff like that over in Iraq and other countries. Politics or no politics, middle east or here, get kids outside playing football and see the joy in their faces. This sort of opportunity might just empower the next superstar, but even if not, this sort of experience might live with them forever and I’m proud Arsenal and Alex are doing this. I remember playing wall ball as a kid with a chalk outline goal on the wall near my house and even that was the best thing! Can’t even imagine what it’d be like to train with the Arsenal women

BODMAS

NICE WORK HELPING THE CHILDREN… FOOTBALL IS NOT ALL ABOUT WINNING TROPHIES BUT ABOUT HAPPINESS… COMPARE ARSENAL FANS TO OTHER WINNING TEAMS HOW HAPPY THEY ARE WHEN THEY WIN BUT WHEN YOU DO WIN, YOU CANT SEE THE SHEER JOY… THAT IS WHY I LOVE ARSENAL AND FOOTBALL

Paul

Pardon? 😉

Katy.

Thanks, Ms. Scott.

EuripidesMac

They said, ‘why do this when you don’t have to?’ and I thought, ‘if everyone had that attitude, nobody would be helping these children or giving them any sort of hope.’ I knew then that I had to do it.”

Shouldn’t we all be thinking like this?

gunnerfan ov palace

Happy easter and good work

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