Scotland captain Andy Robertson launches charity to support children and young people
Scotland captain Andy Robertson has launched his own charity to give young people across the country an equal start in life through football-themed projects and opportunities to support socially deprived and critically ill children.
AR26 Charity, named after his long-held shirt number from Dundee United, Hull City and Liverpool, will provide children with equal access to free football training, support and job opportunities to ensure children and young people starting out in life have an equal playing field, regardless of their gender, race or background.
The 26-year-old Liverpool defender, who last week led Scotland to its first major tournament in 22 years, had been thinking about setting up his own charity with his partner Rachel for a while.
The nationwide lockdown earlier this year gave the couple the time to be able to bring the idea to life, and they are now in a position to launch AR26 this weekend, starting with a 26-day countdown to Christmas that will bring some festive cheer to children and their families across Scotland at a time when they need it the most.
He said: “Throughout my career, I have always tried to help support charities and good causes whenever I could, but I wanted to do more. There are many parts of my life that make me feel blessed and privileged, but without a doubt the most significant of all is the encouragement, help and support of a loving family, amazing friends and brilliant coaches. Without them – and without luck – my circumstances could have been so different.
“It’s because of this that I am excited and honoured to be part of an incredible team launching a charity focused on helping young people in Scotland. AR26 will look to provide support and opportunities for those who, through no fault of their own, feel left behind and, in some cases, abandoned.
“Opportunity should be a basic human right for everyone. To deny young people in Scotland equality of opportunity is to undermine our future. My own experiences have taught me that none of us can achieve anything on our own. We all need other people, we all need help, we all need support - and more than anything - we all need a chance.”
AR26 comprises of three pilot projects that aim to provide young people with a safe place to go and learn new skills, as well as providing once in a lifetime experiences to seriously unwell children:
- Football for All: The AR26 Football Academy staff will provide children and young people across Scotland with free fun football sessions through community-run and after school lessons to help encourage them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
- Hope for Youths: Helping provide young people with access to further education, training and job opportunities.
- Life Changing Experiences: Creating memories for sick children and their families through once in a life-time experiences.
Mr Robertson added: “I am extremely proud to be Scottish because of the values our country is built on. At our best, we are about solidarity, fighting for what’s right and looking after each other. AR26 has been set-up based on those ideals - we want nothing more than to create a long-lasting positive impact on children and young people across Scotland. There’s an amazing team here at AR26, and I hope many more will join us in our journey. By coming together, we can make a difference to those who need it the most – especially at this time of the year.
“Christmas can be special, but for many families, the financial pressure or health uncertainties can make it a very stressful and worrying time,” he added. “Starting this weekend, we hope to provide some additional support and meaningful experiences for families this festive season by donating to some amazing charities and projects each day in the run up to the 25th. If we can bring a smile to even just one person’s face this Christmas, then it will all be worth it.”
The Christmas campaign will help 26 Scottish charities, including the Night Before Christmas, which ensures children in the Ayrshire, Arran and Dumfries and Galloway area receive a Christmas present, and the East Renfrewshire School Bank, which gives young people in the council area access to season appropriate clothing including warm coats, hats and scarfs when attending school throughout the winter.
Amanda Nisanci, head of partnership at AR26 Charity, said: “I am delighted to be embarking on this exciting journey with AR26 Charity. Andy’s passion to utilise his platform and the power of football to inspire tomorrow’s generation is truly contagious and he is the perfect role model to be at the helm of AR26.
“We fully appreciate that the charity launches at a time when positive interventions are needed now more than ever for young people across Scotland and are very much looking forward to making an impact from the outset with our forthcoming Christmas campaign.”