Arsenal club mascot thrills pupils at Hargrave Park School

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Arsenal double-winner Nigel Winterburn and the club mascot Gunnersaurus Rex thrilled pupils at Hargrave Park School in Archway on Monday when they helped open a state-of-the art all-weather astro-turf pitch in the playground.

Funded by the Arsenal Foundation after a “Legends” match against AC Milan last September raised £1m, the club have set the money aside to build football pitches at schools and youth centres across the borough.

Nigel Winterburn (Ex Arsenal) opens the new football pitch funded by the Arsenal Foundation. Hargrave Park School. Archway, Islington, 13/3/17. Credit : Arsenal Football Club / David Price.
Credit : Arsenal Football Club / David Price.

A significant portion of the funds is also being used to make new playing surfaces for children in Somalia and Jordan in partnership with Save The Children.

Winterburn, a permanent fixture in Arsenal’s famous back four for three league titles in 1989, 1991 and 1998, featured in the fundraiser against the Series A giants at the Emirates and was keen to see the fruits of his labour when he returned to the primary school to for a kickabout on the new pitch.

After cutting the ribbon with headteacher Lisa Horton, he signed autographs, shook hands with parents and spoke with a small gaggle of local media reporters.

“The kids were playing on a bumpy and uneven surface before,” Winterburn said. “And now they’ve got a brand new surface to have fun on and play. Arsenal always believed in being part of the community when I was playing and it’s great to see that feeling’s just as strong today. I’m proud to have played my small part in contributing to that.”

Credit : Arsenal Football Club / David Price.
Credit : Arsenal Football Club / David Price.

Through its community outreach programme Arsenal Double Club, the Gunners have provided after-school football coaching and teaching at Hargrave Park to help children with numeracy and literacy.

School business manager Cheryl Headon told Islington Now the school put in a bid for funding to resurface the pitch for football, cricket and basketball after their old pitch had succumbed to wear and tear.

A significant portion of the funds is also being used to make new playing surfaces for children in Somalia and Jordan in partnership with Save The Children.

“The older kids knew who Nigel was more than the younger ones,” Headon said, before confirming that Gunnersaurus went down well with kids and adults of all ages.

Head teacher Horton said: “The new playing surface has really helped to drive our pupils to get involved with sport. Arsenal are a key part of our local community and it’s fantastic to have their support here.”

The club also gave parents and children 100 tickets to attend the under-23 match between Arsenal and Manchester City on Monday night, which the Gunners won 3-0.