Liverpool and Scotland footballer Andy Robertson has launched his own charity in a bid to support socially deprived and critically ill young people across Scotland.
AR26 Charity, named after Robertson’s shirt number - which he has held across his career at Dundee United, Hull City and Liverpool - will provide children with equal access to free football training, support and job opportunities.
According to Robertson, the charity will launch an initial Christmas campaign, before embarking on three pilot projects with the creation of a football academy to provide children with free sessions through community-run, after school lessons; the setting-up of a scheme to give young people access to further education, training, and job opportunities; and the announcement of a new platform to ‘create memories’ for sick children and their families through once in a life-time experiences.
The charity will kick off its work with a Christmas campaign in a bid to help 26 other 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.
According to Robertson, he and his wife Rachel had already been considering such a move, but felt the need to act now due to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had.
“Throughout my career, I have always tried to help support charities and good causes whenever I could, but I wanted to do more,” said Robertson.
“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.
“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.
“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. 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.”
Amanda Nisanci, Head of Partnership at AR26 Charity, added: “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.”