Ray Parlour, one of Arsenal Football Club’s greatest players, will be visiting Ethiopia from 14 to 15 December, 2015 to support and encourage the development of grassroots football in Ethiopia alongside Dashen Brewery, official partner of Arsenal.

Arsenal has become the first Premier League side to secure a regional partnership in Ethiopia after announcing Dashen Brewery as its Official Beer Partner. The partnership will help Arsenal get closer to its fans in Ethiopia and will focus on supporting Dashen Brewery’s community-based initiatives with coaches from the club taking part in grassroots football development projects in Ethiopia. It was under this arrangement that two Arsenal coaching staff came over to Ethiopia last month and gave few days training to 33 Ethiopian coaches.

Dashen is excited about the Arsenal legend’s visit to Ethiopia and believes the various interactions and activities he will undertake during his stay will motivate and encourage young football players in the country. It will also be an exciting moment for Arsenal fans in Ethiopia and Dashen customers.

“We are so excited about the partnership with Arsenal for two main reasons. Firstly, because the two Brands fit so well, both representing the best in quality and community. Secondly, the impact together we will have on Football development in Ethiopia,” Devlin Hainsworth, the Dashen CEO commented. “It is very fitting that Ray Parlour and all that he achieved and represents, is the first legend coming here. This visit will super charge the partnership and really bring it to life for the country and the millions of football fans here.”

Ray’s visit is a continuation of the Dashen-Arsenal partnership arrangement which will see more Arsenal legends and staff coming to Ethiopia. The main focus of Ray’s time in Addis will be to help encourage grassroots football by meeting students from various football projects in Ethiopia including one at the Ethiopian Sports Academy. Ray will spend time playing with the students, motivating them and giving them insights on how to achieve greatness in football while also answering their questions. He will also meet Academy representatives and directors among others. 

In addition to this, Ray will take part in street football at Meskel Square playing and providing kit support to children under the age 17 in an independent football project in Ethiopia. 

“I’ve always had such great support from Arsenal fans and I know the club has great support in Ethiopia. I am really looking forward to meeting some of these fans and to helping Dashen Brewery develop their grassroots football development projects,” Ray said ahead of his departure from London for his Ethiopia visit.

The 42-year-old Ray Parlour is the 19th of Arsenal’s Greatest 50 Players. He was loyal, dependable, tenacious – and a much better player than he was given credit for. Instantly recognizable with his blond curls, the man tagged ‘Romford Pele’ by Marc Overmars rose through the ranks and broke into the Arsenal side in January 1992. It was a baptism of fire – Parlour conceded a penalty in a 2-0 defeat at Anfield – but, unabashed, the teenager came back for more. Seven months later, he ran the show at the same ground as Arsenal reversed that scoreline.

George Graham, the then Arsenal Manager, clearly had faith in the young Parlour and the player himself fitted snugly into a midfield which prided itself on its industry and grit while the likes of Ian Wright and Paul Merson were left to weave the magic further forward.

But Parlour was so much more than a workhorse and would blossom under the tutelage of Arsène Wenger. Some thought the Frenchman’s arrival in September 1996 would herald the end of his Highbury career but, encouraged to express himself on the pitch, Parlour added an extra dimension to his game.

Ray Parlour left Highbury on a high note in the summer of 2004, shortly after Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ had completed an unbeaten title campaign. He was no superstar but Ray remains one of the most underrated – and highly decorated – players in Arsenal’s history.

Source: Ethiopian Reporter
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