The school has been participating in the Foundation's new 'Something to Chew On' project, which aims to teach young people about leading a balanced lifestyle.
The visit was part of the Premier League’s Creating Chances initiative, which highlights the community and good cause work carried out throughout the year by the 20 clubs. Van Der Sar took part in a classroom session about healthy food, commenting on healthy menus that the children had designed for him.
Van Der Sar said: “I have children so I know the importance of getting my kids to eat well and exercise. It’s all about teaching them which foods are good for their bodies and what will make them grow strong and healthy. As footballers we exercise all the time, but leading a balanced lifestyle needn’t be hard work, it is really just common sense - learning the right things to eat and how to exercise properly.'
'This programme is great because it teaches the kids the basics; they were all really enthusiastic and looked like they were enjoying themselves.”
The pupils from the school were also impressed with the United goalkeeper. One pupil said,
“It was so exciting to meet Edwin Van Der Sar. I have learnt lots about eating the right foods and I know it is important to be healthy.”
The interactive scheme is being piloted in the Salford area this year and will be rolled out across Manchester, Trafford and Salford next year. It takes a rounded approach to teaching children about healthy lifestyles and can help schools work towards being a Healthy School. The topics covered, based on the Food Standards Agency’s food competency framework include: diet and health, food safety, consumer awareness, food preparation. Funding projects like this is extremely important to the Food Standards Agency. Rosemary Hignett, Head of Nutrition said,
“Learning how to choose, cook and eat safe, healthy food from a young age is an invaluable tool and we are delighted to be involved in this excellent programme. As well as gaining essential food skills, young people will be given the opportunity to get active through football. The skills young people will develop through these activities will both be fun and interesting, but more importantly they will hopefully have a positive and lasting impact through to their adult lives.”
As well as class room sessions, the programme also aims to motivate children to be active. Practical sessions cover football, fitness and controlling body movement. Andy Smith, scheme coordinator has been a coach for fifteen years and has identified a real need for young people to keep active, he explained,
“It is really important that we cover things like controlling body movement within the programme. During my time as a football club I have noticed that (when they start to play) many children lack the motor skills needed to play football well. It is probably because kids don’t play outside and climb trees as much as we used to. So part of the programme is about building up that basic body control. The whole scheme aims to talk about food, nutrition and exercise in a fun and appealing way, using football and the players as a hook.”
Something to Chew On is funded through the Premier League/PFA Community Fund and the Food Standards Agency and supported by School Sport Partnerships. The community fund enables Premier League clubs' community departments to apply for grants to start innovative new projects, or develop and enhance the many they already deliver. The three-year fund is administered and managed by the Football Foundation.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said:
“This funding for the Manchester United Foundation’s ‘Something to Chew On’ project is good news for the city’s youngsters. Working in partnership with the Food Standards Agency the project will encourage seven and eight year olds to eat healthily and enjoy an active lifestyle through twice-weekly football sessions.”