Not so much ‘Arsenal and me’ more ‘Arsenal is me’ – Lessons in Life from AFC

I was asked by the Official Arsenal Pune Supporters Club, in India, to judge an essay writing competition. The title of subject was ‘Arsenal and me’ and today I read the contributions of three selected finalists. The winner from three strong contenders is below and the winning author is Arbaaz Shaikh. Arbaaz is 18 and studying Computer Science Engineering…

“If you don’t think you can do it, then you have no chance at all.” Words of the man who is the manager of the club I support, Arsene Wenger. The manager of the club that has been ‘my everything’, for quite a few years now. When I look at my life, and list down the things that have helped me grow as a person in the last few years, Arsenal Football Club is at the top of that list.

Coming from a country where cricket is like a religion and with football not being majorly popular here in India, I was introduced to this beautiful sport a bit late. My school was well known for football in the city, so I had quite some knowledge about the game but not enough to understand the whole concept, let alone how it actually worked at global level.

I was 13 when I actually started understanding what football is all about and that of course is when I started supporting Arsenal. I fell madly in love with the style of play of this beautiful football club, a club with a lot of history, one of Europe’s top and England’s third most successful clubs of all time. This prestigious club had been struggling financially when I first started supporting. Arsenal were in huge debt back then, they didn’t have enough money to compete with the big boys in the transfer market after they moved to The Emirates Stadium. Moreover, even though they were forced to sell their key players due to the financial restrictions, they consistently finished in the Top 4 every year. That is when Arsenal taught me my first lesson: No matter how difficult the time is, you can still get what you want if you put your mind to achieving your goals.

“Money doesn’t buy success, your strength, attitude and character does.” This is a statement used often in all fields of life. In addition, when you look at it from a football perspective, you will realise how Arsenal are the perfect example to substantiate this quote. In this money driven football world, Arsenal have taught us how ‘will to fight’ and ‘mental strength’ are the stronger aspects needed for success more than ‘money’. An important reason for that is, the manager Arsene Wenger.

Father figure

Arsene Wenger. Father figure. Truly one of the greatest managers to have ever graced English football. It is amazing how this father figure has kept this Arsenal family united and together for 20 long years. Currently, Arsenal are the only top club in Europe to have a manager for such a long reign and through thick and thin. What that proves and teaches us is that Arsenal is more than just a club. Arsenal is a family. A family driven by values and traditions. A family that knows how to be happy.

Arsenal are a family that sets an example for others. A family that inspires others to stay united and happy. Arsenal went through a nine-year trophy drought before they won the FA Cup in 2013. Nine years is a long time for any European Giant. Yet, you could still see every Arsenal fan turn up for games with the same passion and enthusiasm and support the team through these years. We believed in the team. And eventually, we won the FA Cup and now after winning it again thrice in four years, Arsenal hold the record for the most number of FA Cups won by a Football Club. Arsenal fans here, taught me the importance of patience and perseverance in life. Patience and perseverance are two key aspects if you aim for a successful life. Arsenal has become a part of my life.

It has become as important to me as breathing is. It is amazing how I spend majority of my time of the day thinking about Arsenal. No, Arsenal is not my girlfriend or wife, nor child, but still it is the first thought that comes to my mind when I wake up in the morning and the last thought before I sleep at night. The day when Arsenal lose a game is the day of mourning, the day Arsenal win a game is to be celebrated like a festival, and the joy of it makes me so happy.

The reason for that being, I think, that once we humans feel attached to ‘something’ in a way that ‘that something’ actually starts having an impact on your life, on your mood, and on what’s happening around you, you know you’ve found something that you can call as a ‘purpose’. I think Arsenal has become my ‘purpose’. My purpose, my strength, my weakness and maybe my everything.

This beautiful football club has taught me so many life lessons. This club has had a major contribution in developing this little kid into the mature 18 year old that I am today. Arsenal is not just a football club; it has become an integral part of me. Therefore, when I was writing this essay on the topic ‘Arsenal and me’, my mind somehow automatically converted the topic to ‘Arsenal is me’.

That is more like it.

You can follow this passionate young Gooner here @afcarbaaz


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