So today’s post has been taken care of by Bacary Sagna. He is an ambassador for the Charity Grassroot Soccer. They use the power of football to teach kids to make the right decisions in life. I met Nik Haigh, the European Director of the charity in Covent Garden a few months ago and I loved the concept of using the positive message of football to help create an AIDS free generation.
The fact that this Charity has Bobby Pires and Alex Song gives it even more appeal. They’re not a big flashy organisation but they are passionate about what they do. All three of the Arsenal players are desperate to do whatever they can to promote the cause and they all do it for free… something I know first hand can’t be said of other ambassadors.
Anyway, do check out the links and share this article around. It’s a very candid interview and I want to say a bit thanks to Nik Haigh for making this happen.
Enjoy! (Bear in mind, these questions were sent before the Spurs game!)
You’re back in the team and playing well again. How confident are you about Arsenal making top four this season?
I am feeling confident. We had a slow start to the season. The players were just as frustrated as the fans. But, with hard work we turned things around. Playing together on a regular basis has helped a lot.
Who are the key players who make the team work well?
Robin Van Persie is a strong leader. He has had a really big impact on the team this season on and off the pitch. He is a role model for everyone. Thomas Vermaelen is a warrior. He demonstrates through his actions that if in life if you want something you have to fight every day for it. Just look at the run he made to score the winner against Newcastle.
Do you think we have a chance of overturning Spurs?
The defense has come under heavy criticism this year. What is the club working on in training to rectify the problems?
We work on training every day. We progress day by day, game by game. We want to be the best. To be the best you must improve every day. After every game I replay in my mind certain moments. I try to learn from my mistakes.
Who is the best player you’ve ever trained with and why?
Fabregas: he was just born to play football. He is so talented; his ability to pass the ball is second to none.
Out of the Arsenal greats, who is you favorite former Arsenal player?
Robert Pirès: not because he is French and not because he is a Grassroot Soccer Ambassador! I love his creativity. He is also very determined. Due to an injury he didn’t go to World Cup 2002, and that year he won Player of the Season at the PFA awards. It was a tough moment but he came back from it. He didn’t give up. His actions inspired me this season to make my return.
How was it to have Thierry Henry back at the club for his brief stint?
“Magic”. It was a Christmas gift to Arsenal. Everyone learned a lot from him. Right from the first game he inspired everyone.
You’re widely regarded as the best right back in the league. Outside Arsenal players, which defender do you admire the most and why?
Rio Ferdinand: he is a very smart player, very clever in how he positions himself on the pitch. You have to be clever to play at such a high level consistently over many years.
Which part of your game do you work on the hardest?
Defense: I am a defender so I have to defend first. I always want to play the perfect game. That way I can help to put the team in a place to win.
Who is you biggest supporter?
My dad has always been a big supporter. He and I speak after every match. We have been doing this since I was a boy. Back then I was a striker. Even in matches where I scored three goals he would tell me what I did wrong and how I could improve. I was not looking forward to talking with him after the Wigan match! When I was a kid I almost stopped playing soccer. I started to get distracted by things my friends were doing. My dad helped me to stay focused.
You’re an ambassador to Grassroot Soccer. What attracted you to the project?
I lost someone close to me. It focused my mind and made me want to give back – I realize how important projects like Grassroot Soccer are. You always hear about charities, but not often do you feel a personal connection to one. I’ve been to Africa lots since I was a kid. I have seen many kids and people suffering. I want to show my support for them. I want them to know that we share things in common. I went to school too and I am still learning like them. We are on the same team, the Grassroot Soccer team.
Were you attracted because the charity uses soccer?
It was not just about soccer. Although I like that soccer is part of the solution. It was because Grassroot Soccer works. They have respected supporters, such as the Gates Foundation. And they partners with schools, hospitals and local leaders. I always look to associate with people I respect. I very much respect the people who run Grassroot Soccer. One of the founders is Methembe Ndlovu. I have spent some time with him. He played on the Zimbabwe National team. He has now dedicated his life to helping children in his country as the director of Grassroot Soccer Zimbabwe.
What is your role for the Charity?
I am an Ambassador for Grassroot Soccer. I do as much as I can. I am no different from anyone else involved in the charity. I attend board meetings and give my feedback on how the charity can improve. It is like a team, we are always trying to get better and provide the youth participants with the best support possible. I am very proud to be part of Grassroot Soccer.
How can we help?
You can all help by raising awareness for Grassroot Soccer through twitter and your social networks. You can give money to support our work: www.grassrootsoccer.org. You can also play sport – Grassroot Soccer is all about encouraging young people to be active and make healthy, responsible decisions on and off the pitch.
With Eboue now at Galatasaray, who is the funniest person in the dressing room?
Alex Song: he is very easygoing and funny. He is always smiling and having fun with the players. But, when the game starts he is focused and works so hard. He covers a lot of ground. He is also an Ambassador for Grassroot Soccer.
Which players do you socialize with most often?
Kieran Gibbs: we are both young and we get on very well. We train a lot together and have got to know each other better through that.
Johan Djourou: he is from Switzerland and speaks French. He was the first one who chatted with me and supported me when I first arrived at Arsenal – I had very little English when I first arrived.
Which youth team player excites you the most?
Benik-Afobe. He reminds me of Drogba. He is very strong.
Which team do you enjoy playing against the most?
I love playing against Spurs at home: the stadium is on fire, people dancing and singing. For players it’s like magic.
What do you like about playing in England?
The fans are so passionate. I love that. And I love how they stay true to their home clubs. You often see three generations of one family all supporting a club together.
Who is going to win this summer’s European Championship?
Spain will be a tough opponent. So will Germany. And of course we on the French National team will do everything we can to win – we need to express ourselves on the pitch.
What is something fans might not know about you?
I love to play chess. I started playing when I was a kid in school. It is very relaxing.
Many thanks to the people at Grassroot Soccer for providing this interview. If you could do your bit and share this article out on your social platforms, that would be marvellous.
If you’re on Twitter, copy and paste the following.
RT Take a read of Bacary Sagna’s interview on behalf of @Grassrootsoccer http://tinyurl.com/SagnaGrassrootSoccer
You can also give them a follow directly from here by clicking the button below.
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Grassrootsoccer’ show_count=’yes’]
[twitter-follow screen_name=’LeGrove’ show_count=’yes’]
Oh, and finally please do donate if you have some spare cash.