Scotland captain Andy Robertson has launched his own charity to give young people across the country an equal start in life through football-themed projects.
AR26 Charity, named after Robertson’s long-held shirt number from Dundee United, Hull City and Liverpool, will provide children with equal access to free football training, support and job opportunities.
Its aim is to ensure all children and young people have an equal playing field, regardless of their social background, race or gender.
The 26-year-old Liverpool defender, who last week led Scotland to its first major tournament in 22 years, said lockdown gave him and his partner Rachel the perfect opportunity to start their charity.
AR26 will launch this weekend, with a 26-day countdown to Christmas to provide some festive cheer to those who need it most.
“Throughout my career, I have always tried to help support charities and good causes whenever I could, but I wanted to do more,” said Robertson.
“There are many parts of my life that make me feel blessed and privileged, but without a doubt the most significant of all is the encouragement, help and support of a loving family, amazing friends and brilliant coaches. Without them – and without luck – my circumstances could have been so different.
“It’s because of this that I am excited and honoured to be part of an incredible team launching a charity focused on helping young people in Scotland.
“AR26 will look to provide support and opportunities for those who, through no fault of their own, feel left behind and, in some cases, abandoned.”
He added: “Opportunity should be a basic human right for everyone. To deny young people in Scotland equality of opportunity is to undermine our future.
“My own experiences have taught me that none of us can achieve anything on our own. We all need other people, we all need help, we all need support – and more than anything – we all need a chance.”
AR26 comprises of three pilot projects that aim to provide young people with a safe place to go and learn new skills, as well as providing once in a lifetime experiences to seriously unwell children.
The Christmas campaign will help 26 Scottish charities, including the Night Before Christmas, which ensures children in the Ayrshire, Arran and Dumfries and Galloway area receive a Christmas present.
It will also support the East Renfrewshire School Bank, which gives young people in the council area access to season appropriate clothing including warm coats, hats and scarfs when attending school throughout the winter.
For more information or to donate to AR26, visit www.ar26.org.uk, or follow @AR26Charity on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.