England and Manchester City star Raheem Sterling this week returned to Ark Elvin Academy, his former secondary school in Wembley in London, to launch his new Foundation.
The Raheem Sterling Foundation will focus its work on supporting young people in London, Manchester and Kingston, Jamaica, his birthplace. He was joined at the school by his mum, Nadine, and former coach, Clive Ellington, and unveiled the Foundation’s official plaque and charter at the school.
At the launch event, Raheem spoke at a school assembly and paid tribute to the mentors who had helped him make the journey from Wembley schoolboy to international sports star. He said: “My journey has been well documented but nothing would have been achievable without belief, family, great mentors and the opportunities I have embraced. My Foundation is built on my experiences, success and the many challenges I overcame. I now want to help young people achieve and be the best they can be.”
Commenting on the school today compared to his youth, Raheem said: “I would have loved it. It’s a great school and I am so impressed by the strong relationship between teachers and students. I think I would have benefited from it!”
Ark Elvin Principal Becky Curtis (pictured left) said: “We are so proud that Raheem is part of our team here at the school and delighted that he has launched his foundation with us. He is such an inspirational role model to our children. What he stands for on and off the pitch helps our children see that high expectations and hard work wins.”
Principal Curtis also surprised Raheem when she announced the school's sports hall would be named the Raheem Sterling Sports Hall after him.
Sterling posed for pictures and answered questions from some of the school’s Year 11 students. Speaking after his visit, Tariq Mohamed, 15, said: “It was a great experience to meet Raheem. He’s a massive inspiration to all of us.”
Vili Buchkov, 15, said: “You don’t get to speak to a football star every day. But it’s great to think that he grew up from the same community as me.”
Zainab Conteh, 15, said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking. I play football too and it’s helpful to hear him talk about balancing sport with studies.”
Paris McKenna, 16, said: “He doesn’t forget where he comes from and that’s very important to me."
The Foundation’s first projects will directly benefit students at Ark Elvin, including a new meditation room provided by Headspace and mentoring support delivered by the Promise Foundation.