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28th Apr, 2023

Mertesacker - I'll be back at Raise Your Game

Raise Your Game was back after a four-year break, and the energy in the room was stronger than ever as hundreds of delegates and mentors met at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal legend Per Mertesacker was attending his first Raise Your Game National Conference but spoke for many when he said he was "inspired" to return.

"I'm quite amazed how many people are here and how many people want to connect and build relationships because this is what it's all about," he said. 

"Me being here is quite an honour and supporting this as a club is really important. It's my first time here but it's not going to be my last."

After sharing the story of his journey on stage, the Arsenal Academy Manager was generous with his time as he was approached by delegates, talking to them about their experiences and offering advice for the future.

It summed up a memorable day where hundreds of young people from underrepresented groups got their chance to listen to surprise guest - Burnley manager Vincent Kompany, hear from Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and spend valuable one-to-one mentoring time with experts and leaders in the football industry. 

Whether it was advice on how to break into the media from Henry Winter, Robbie Lyle and Faye Carruthers, or getting tips on how to take their next steps in coaching or refereeing from Manisha Tailor or Aji Ajibola, or finding out more about careers in player care or business administration, the delegates lapped up as much information as they could.

They were also able to watch the success stories of former Raise Your Game delegates Fadumo Olow, who is now a reporter at Sky Sports News, or Becca James, who looks after Arsenal players at her Limitless agency. Both took the first steps to their current roles at Raise Your Game.     

But it wasn't only the delegates who were inspired. The mentors in the room were buzzing after being quizzed by a new generation about where the football industry was heading next, and listened to their never-ending creativity.    

Raise Your Game co-host Vaishali Bhardwaj said: "If I had something like this when I was younger, it would have given me the platform to learn from others, to network, and to know that there are people who have trodden that path already. There has been a great energy in the room." 

Fellow host Jordan Jarrett-Bryan added: "My advice for anyone is to just do it. We're here to help and advise and encourage you to join us in this space. 

"There is no excuse anymore to not believe that you can wear a hijab and be a presenter or be in a wheelchair and be a producer, the visibility is there. If you're talented and work hard, there is space for you in this industry."