Wenger hails school after his name

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/29 19:28:39

Arsenal fans pay tribute to former French manager

Arsenal fans take pictures in front of the new Wenger Primary School at its completion ceremony in Dahua county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on May 25. Photo: Courtesy of Ma Lijuan

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recorded a short video to express his best wishes and thankfulness toward Chinese Arsenal fans who established a primary school in an underdeveloped area and named it after him. 

"It is a great honor for me to give my name to your school, for the charity of Guangxi. And I would like to wish you all the best and good luck, and to develop all the kids in the charity with great value with what you know we loved our football club. So, it is the very moment of the school, and wish you good luck," the legendary French manager said in the video.  

The video was posted by a soccer commentator Yan Qiang on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform on Monday and quickly received a positive reaction. 

Yan, an Arsenal fan, confirmed Monday to the Global Times that he had contacted Wenger and told him about the charity project after the school was established.  

Wenger Primary School is located in the Yao ethnic minority village of Banlan in Dahua county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.The double-story building cost about 292,000 yuan ($42,364), mainly paid for by Arsenal fan charitable contributions and can accommodate an estimated 75 students.

Construction started in August last year and finished on May 25. The school is decorated with the English Premier League club's classical red and white paint and the club's cannon badge. There is an artistic logo of Wenger standing on the second floor of the building.

"The idea came in April 2018 when Mr Wenger announced his departure from Arsenal at the end of that season," Wu Chen, one of the project organizers, told the Global Times on Monday. "We wanted to pay tribute to him through charity."

They chose a remote and mountainous region where they knew transportation and construction would be difficult. 

Arsenal fans from all walks of life not only provided financial support but also worked personally on logistics, material procurement, architecture design, construction plans and artistic design, Wu noted.

China's first Arsenal supporters' charity school was established in Quanzhou county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on October 18, 2013, when fans donated $15,247, according to the official Arsenal FC website. 

Together with Chinese fans, the club donated sports equipment and stationery in 2017 to once schools including one in Longmen county, Guangdong Province and Yugan county in Jiangxi Province. 

"Proud to be an Arsenal fan, proud to be an Arsene fan," Yan posted on Sina Weibo. 

"Chinese Arsenal fans have walked farther than others in public charity. Thanks for what you have done, which might stimulate other fan groups to catch up," replied a fan of  Manchester United - Arsenal's longtime arch-rivals in the Premier League. 

Wenger left Arsenal after 22 years in charge having endured a barrage of criticism in the ­latter part of his reign for a tactical approach that resulted in 14 seasons without a Premier League title.

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