Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's a Bit 'Soft' but Football Is Not the Be All and End All

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's a Bit 'Soft' but Football Is Not the Be All and End All

Article excerpt

Byline: Benoit Assou-Ekotto Tottenham defender is reminded of the more important issues in life on a club visit to a local hospital

IN THE spirit of the festive season I'd like to share an experience that reminded me what is really important. Spurs arrange visits to local hospitals and it's always nice to see the smiles on the faces of those we meet.

This year, it felt even more special. I don't know if it was the riots or the ever-present reports about the financial hardships in the world.

During and just after the riots, I thought a lot about the challenges we face as a society. One thing I do think is just how separated we are even though technology has made the world smaller. I know it all sounds a bit philosophical but that's the festive season!

I try to meet and talk with the residents in N17 as much as possible, hoping to better understand the challenges people face in their lives.

Maybe growing up in a small town or coming from a small African nation makes me like the idea of community. When I arrived at the North Middlesex Hospital near the stadium, with Kevin Bond, Niko Kranjcar and Carlo Cudicini and seeing how happy these children were to see us made me think about the roles we have to play -- many people don't see this side of football very often.

This year I have paid more attention to what the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation does and these aspects of my club are the things I like the most -- it has a connection to the people; a connection to a community -- and this matters a lot to me.

It's strange at this time of year. People tend to rediscover their humanity. People remember the things that really matter, like family, health, time-off work and, of course, football!

As players the period is slightly different. It's non-stop and the importance of each game is clear for all to see. …

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