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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 12:37 GMT
What's the 'A' goal celebration all about?
WHO, WHAT, WHY?
The Magazine answers...

Wigan Athletic's Titus Bramble
Bramble is an A-Star ambassador
Footballers are known for their inventive goal celebrations and the latest is the strange three-fingered "A" salute. But what does it mean?

From the robot and rocking the baby to Robbie Fowler's infamous line-snorting incident, footballers are always coming up with novel ways to express their joy at scoring a goal.

The "A" salute is the latest celebration sweeping the footballing world. After scoring a player spells out "A" using three fingers.

THE ANSWER
It stands for A-Star, a footballing initiative to open up pathways into employment for youngsters through sport and other creative activities

England international and Manchester City defender Micah Richards, Everton's Andy Johnson and Wigan Athletic's Titus Bramble and Marcus Bent are among the Premiership players doing it. And for once it's got a positive edge.

The three-fingered celebration is part of an initiative started by a group of players, called A-Star. It aims to open up pathways into employment for youngsters through sport and other creative activities. The "A" salute is visual shorthand for the initiative's motto: "every child is a star".

One of the players who started the celebration is QPR defender Fitz Hall, who is co-founder of the initiative.

He says he wants young people to express themselves in a positive manner and follow role models who don't glamorise "crime, guns or drugs".

Sense of achievement

"The sign is his way of doing the talking on the pitch," says a spokesman for Hall. "The initiative is his chance to give something back to the game."

Through football tournaments and activities organised by A-Star, children will be given a chance to showcase their talents and hopefully come away from the event with a sense of achievement.

"The sentiment of A-Star is to influence young people to be the best they can be," says Kenneth Bonsu, also a co-founder of the initiative.

WHO, WHAT, WHY?
Graphic
A regular part of the BBC News Magazine, Who, What, Why? aims to answer some of the questions behind the headlines

"Whatever sphere or walk of life the young person may come from, the mantra of A-Star is that we believe that every child is a star."

The initiative is due to be officially launched this summer.

The initiative, and the positive message it's trying to promote, has been welcome in the footballing world after a series of scandals involving players, including rape allegations and assault charges.

In recent years goal celebrations have increasingly become a way for players to make a statement - personal or political - albeit often at the annoyance of the footballing authorities.

One of the most notable incidents involved Robbie Fowler. He raised his shirt after scoring a goal for Liverpool in a 1997 Cup Winners Cup quarter-final to reveal a T-shirt proclaiming support for sacked Liverpool dockers. He was fined £900 for doing it.


Below is a selection of your comments.

I think its a nice change to see footballers trying to make a difference with their time and money!
Tom Puttock, High Wycombe England

How refreshing that our footballers are acting as positive role models for young people. When juxtoposed with behaviour displayed by some, these footballers deserved to be praised for their work and publicity, as do many of the other members of the sporting community who get little publicity for their charity work. This is another example of trying to engage with young people through activities they enjoy, the lack of attention and funding given to youth services by this government is appalling. They should follow the lead of these 'A'spirational sportsmen.
Hannah McFaull, London, UK

It's fantastic to see footballers in the new for the right reasons. So often its bad news, so I welcome these initiatives that players can take a keen interest in.
Cameron Brooks, Ealing, UK

It's happening everywhere, even our defender did it when he scored last Sunday in our sunday league match.
Joe Timmins, Chesterfield

The 'A' sign of celebration is a really good initiative to send messages across world. It is a welcome development, especially now that so many footballers are involved in series of scandals. Thumbs up!
Onuoha Tony, Nigeria

Every child is a star. Unfortuntately, 99.99% of them will not be paid like our footballing stars. Most of them will end up in mind-numbing careers with the slim hope of one day being able to buy their own house. Raising children's hope to an unsustainable level and promoting star lifestyles is a falso hope. When reality comes crashing in at age 16 or 18, it is all the harder to flip those burgers with pride or enthusiasm.
Antony Davies, Princeton, USA

Evertonians have spent weeks trying to figure out what Andy Johnson and James Vaughn were doing until "AJ" spilled the beans he was supporting the A-Star charity. It's been fun trying to figure it out, and great publicity to the cause. You have to remember for young people in the north west of England - football is like a religion. And AJ and company are doing our club proud in supporting this.
Mark R, Chester, UK

I think it's a testament that some footballers do still care about grassroots and giving to where their from. International players like Andy Johnson being involved clearly shows there is still a conscience and responsibility to help when able and to improve our footballing societies.
Liam norris, Blackwood, Wales

Antony Davies from Princeton, that's the kind of attitude which condemns you to that very life of flipping burgers. As Adam Smith says: "The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause as the effect of the division of labour." You are only limited by your aspirations.
Bilal Anwar, London



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