Ooh to be a Gooner: Kaylé

Another in our series profiling the Gooners joining us at Maggie McGarry’s on match days.

Kaylé Barnes was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, grew up in Houston, Texas, and lived for a time in Washington, D.C., In DC, she watched Arsenal regularly at Lucky Bar (RIP to that bar) with the DC Armory, and found the East Coast start times so much gentler.

She moved to San Francisco about 8 years ago and in an effort to acclimate to new surroundings, found us, by searching Bay Area and Arsenal. Upon learning of our existence, she began braving the West Coast’s less hospitable kickoff times.

But her journey to becoming an Arsenal supporter, started with one of the many international friends Kaylé made as an undergrad in college. One particularly special friend, spoke passionately of Arsenal and Thierry Henry.

Watching Titi, she was captivated by how beautiful he was, how beautifully he played and the rest was history. Kaylé’ also loved everything about Arsène Wenger, the style of footy he wanted his team to play, his passion for the game, even his coats. And she appreciated how many French players there were when she first encounted the team.

When asked abou all-time favorite Arsenal players, she says, Titi is an easy answer, but a more interesting answer is Giroud. He was an underappreciated player, who gave us a lot of memorable goals and  a real commitment to the team. I’m glad through his work on the French national team, he’s starting to get his props, since he’ll probably surpass Henry’s goal record with Les Bleus during this World Cup (Editor’s note: he did).

She finds it impossible to choose a current favorite, saying, It changes every match, which is a wonderful position to be in. A true embarrassment of riches! I can’t and won’t choose. If I had to celebrate one player in one critical match, I’d say Tomiyasu versus Liverpool. I was really stressed, but also hopeful about the Liverpool match and the work he did to make Salah a non-factor was really impressive and helped us win. 

Kaylé is a huge Arteta fan, I’ve wanted Arteta since Wenger left in 2019 and have never wavered. I’m pretty sure the only person who loves Arsenal more than Wenger is Arteta. Seeing him lead the boys in All or Nothing: Arsenal was surprisingly moving, reigniting my love for the team and the Arsenal way, which made me fall in love with the club initially. Watching how much the players respect and love him made me recommit to our absurdly early West Coast times.

She loves watching with the Bay Area Gooners, citing the sense of camaraderie and community. Sharing something in common. It’s a really special feeling to walk into a bar for a 4:00 am match, knowing other people, just as passionate, are going to be there. We’re seeing the fruit of the Arteta way and it’s delicious! Thanks for all the love and intentionality you bring to creating a community for Gooners. You make sure everyone feels welcomed and that it is a positive space.

Kaylé (far right)

Kaylé visited the Emirates in 2019 and found it a really moving experience. I haven’t seen Arsenal play in person yet, but one day inshallah. I can’t wait until I get to see them play in London! I’m sure I’ll cry. I hope by the time I make it to a match, Wenger’s statue is up to greet me.

When not obsessing about Arsenal, Kaylé is Director of Advancement for local non-profit, Youth Speaks. She says, Youth Speaks is a Bay Area-based youth arts and culture organization that amplifies the stories and perspectives of young people through arts education and youth development programming.

Youth Speaks produces local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, and reading series, alongside a comprehensive slate of arts-in-education programs during the school day and during out-of-school time. In short, Youth Speaks exists to create spaces that challenge youth to develop and amplify their voices as creators of societal change.

On Sunday, January 15th, we’ll host a charity raffle during the North London Derby at Maggie’s. We’ll have a number of great Arsenal prizes and all proceeds will go to Youth Speaks. More on that, very soon!

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