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Young Gunners go for it as Arsenal U18s train with the Navy

12 July 2021
Arsenal’s U18s team spent a day learning resilience and teamwork with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines on a short pre-season tour of the Plymouth area.

After winning a 4-0 win over Tavistock, the young Gunners spent the morning with Colour Sergeant Mike Beaton – better known as the Commando Chef – learning about his Royal Marines career and how his commando training enabled him to overcome difficult obstacles. Mike explained how the resilience that he learned in the Royal Marines is vital when competing in professional sports, imparting important lessons to the young players.

 The players then put these ideals to the test in a series of Practical Leadership Tasks set out by Royal Navy personnel. The footballers were blindfolded and led through a number of activities by their teammates, highlighting skills in effective communication and leadership – vital both on a football pitch and a warship.

“We had a talk about leadership and other life skills and how that is important for all of our players, both as individuals but as they grow through the journey with Arsenal and as teammates” said Mark Walter, Player Care Manager of the U18s.

“The Leadership tasks that the Navy put the boys through showed that the key was communication and working as a team, which was brilliant to see.”

The Leadership tasks that the Navy put the boys through showed that the key was communication and working as a team, which was brilliant to see.

Mark Walter, Player Care Manager of the Arsenal U18s

Player Reuell Walters added: “It’s been a really cool experience; we’ve had a talk with Mike which enlightened us on the journey that he went through joining the Royal Marines at such a young age. We learned a lot from him, he’s grown up basically away from home from 16, he’s experienced a lot of things in his life that most people would never experience themselves and it’s just been a really refreshing talk to have.

“The exercises were quite fun. Trying to guide each other through obstacle courses and attempting to make shapes with ropes to try and become one as a team and understand that sometimes you might not be in charge.

“We’re so happy. We’ve spent a lot of time at home so honestly so happy to get back outside and to start playing football again”

The young Gunners went on to a 1-1 draw against Plymouth Argyle's U18s the next day.

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