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Ian Wright, a soccer icon for England and Arsenal FC, went back to where it all started to open the Rocky and Wrighty Arena at Turnham Academy in Brockley, South London, overlooked by the estate where he grew up.

Wright visited the opening of the pitch, funded in cooperation by video games developer EA Sports and The Football Foundation. The floodlit arena features a mural of Wright and former Arsenal FC teammate David Rocastle, who passed away in 2001. Both attended Turnham Academy in the past.

In this context EA Sports announced FC FUTURES, a new community soccer initiative. Wright and world-renowned Chelsea FC Women’s Manager Emma Hayes are the new program’s first ambassadors.

Their first three-year plan involves multiple grassroots soccer projects around the globe. This announcement follows EA Sports’ new brand identity, logo and vision reveal for the upcoming replacement of the FIFA series, EA Sports FC.

“I’m delighted to be an ambassador for EA Sports FC FUTURES,” stated Ian Wright.

“This is where football starts, right here in our communities and investing in the game is a crucial step toward advancing global football. That starts with providing kids access to much-needed facilities in order for them to be able to play as much as possible in safe, local spaces. I’m grateful my old school can play a part in the future of football, and it’s an honor to be involved.”

The facility is the first of several investments worldwide by FC FUTURES, and will be used during school time and after hours, with floodlights allowing youth teams and community soccer organizations to play the beautiful game safely.

The Rocky and Wrighty Arena will be available as a playable pitch in EA Sports FC 24, which is due to be released later this year.

Speaking at the opening event, David Jackson, VP of Brand Marketing at EA Sports, announced “we are so thrilled that this pitch exists in the real world, and we're really thrilled that it's going to exist in our game too.”

“Ian is family at EA Sports – he is a model of passion for the game. And it's his vision, and his team's vision, that brought this to life with these different partners,” Jackson added in tribute to Wright, who appeared visibly emotional throughout the ceremony.

Also present at the launch on a rainy London afternoon was Chelsea FC Women’s manager and Ian’s friend Emma Hayes. “Growing up in London, I was always looking for a way to get onto the pitch,” she said.

Ian Wright and Emma Hayes.

Emma Hayes and Ian Wright are the first ambassadors for EA's new initiative.

She continued: “I’m ecstatic that women and underrepresented talent are getting the resources many of us didn’t. FC FUTURES is a fantastic way to provide opportunities for the next generation of fans to explore and further their passion for football, and it makes me proud to be an FC FUTURES ambassador. I believe that investments like this have the power to change lives.”

As part of the FC FUTURES initiative, along with funding playing facilities, EA will launch publicly-available soccer coaching resources later this year in five languages, and plans on investing in essential equipment for clubs and schools such as soccer balls and cones.

More on EA Sports FC 24 is expected to be revealed in July 2023.