Lotte Wubben-Moy: The local Arsenal gift that keeps giving | Arsenal women

Lotte Wubben-Moy is not a classic English central defender. “I’ve always been competitive, I’ve always been competitive,” says the Arsenal player, sounding so far, so normal. “But then again, I’ve always had parts of me that enjoy illustration, art and things off the field that are very close to my heart. Things that make me me.”

Football is everything and nothing for Wubben-Moy, so much a part of her but not the only part of her. “It’s something that’s been very close to my heart my entire life,” she says. “I was in sixth form at Stoke Newington and almost every single person in that school was an Arsenal supporter. Arsenal in the Community was active at this school. I remember that the ribbon was cut for the place that opened there.

“So football was very intertwined with my life and with things off the pitch. But things off the pitch have also contributed a lot to my successes and who I am on the pitch.”

It is this view of football, its holistic potential and power, that inspired the 23-year-old to come to the negotiating table for a contract extension with more than just money, contract length and football in mind. Confirmation of an extension on Friday, the length of which was not disclosed, came with a twist.

“As part of her new deal,” reads an Arsenal announcement, “Lotte has also committed to working closely with Arsenal in the community over the coming years to give back to the area where she grew up and still lives .”

As well as being involved in existing community projects, the England international with seven caps has included a 12-week program in her contract with the club, running four times a year, inspired by her passions and aimed at women and girls in the communities, in which she grew up.

Moving the goalposts
Figure: Guardian theme

“This is the next step in my career and the contract reflects that,” she says. “But beyond that, it’s also important to me as a person because I exist in the same community as Arsenal. Coming from north and east London, Arsenal have a very strong presence there – Hackney, Camden, Islington, those are the communities the club serves. Within my contract I have built an exciting program inspired by my attitude to life of appreciating the little things. Some of you may know that I write a blog [The Lotte Little Things] Here I am happy to share my appreciation for these small things.”

The program “is built on giving back to my community,” she says. “It will serve young girls and young women for the duration of my contract and I will be a part of it – giving my time and energy to give back. I’ll be able to talk to them, get involved. This is a side note to my contract that is very important to me.

Lotte Wubben-Moy scores for Arsenal against Wolfsburg in the Champions League last month
Lotte Wubben-Moy scores for Arsenal against Wolfsburg in the Champions League last month. Photo: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

“I say that often, but football is a bridge over many waters. It helps to give the individual options, to give them opportunities, not necessarily to reach the highest professional level on the pitch, just on a playful level. Football puts a smile on so many people’s faces and I think it can help you be your happiest self.”

Wubben-Moy’s project will include football, art, reading and the environment, she says. “There will be a 60/40 split for each session, which will hopefully be an hour and a half or two hours a week over those 12 weeks. I have not yet confirmed my times and the time I can devote to these sessions, but I hope to reach as many as possible. In these sessions, 60% of the time is devoted to playing football and 40% of the time to either art, reading or the environment, with the involvement of outsiders who can help. At the end of the 12 weeks there is a trip, a trip – I’m dying for a trip to the Tate, but I’m sure we’ll do some other trips.”

Lotte Wubben-Moy on Friday when her new contract was announced.
Lotte Wubben-Moy on Friday when her new contract was announced. Photo: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

That Wubben-Moy was able to include this project in their contract talks is a testament to their ambitions for the game, but also to their form. The defender, who rose through Arsenal academy and the senior team before playing college football with the North Carolina Tar Heels in the United States, is in a second term at the club for 18 months and returns in September 2020 her second debut.

She is a core member of the team and her new deal comes not long after fellow centre-back and Arsenal fan Leah Williamson signed a new contract.

“The direction in which the club is moving is not built on sand, but on years of heritage,” says Wubben-Moy. “Like Leah, I know that legacy, I know we come from a heritage of winning and competing and we will continue to do that and build on that. I’ve watched Arsenal all my life but this seems to be the next level. It’s my job and I want to use my skills and my experience to deliver top performances at the same time as the club and to continue to drive the team forward.”

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