That’s just what happened to lucky pupils at New Charter Academy in Ashton-under-Lyne when Manchester United star Jonny Evans dropped by to take part in a maths lesson.
The visit was organised through the academy’s partnership with the Foundation and marked the launch of a new project that aims to incorporate maths with sport through studying match analysis and statistics.
Foundation coach, Claire Mulvenna, who is based full-time at New Charter, explained, “Today is all about kick-starting the project so it’s great for the pupils to see someone who is a very positive role model, who’s very keen on maths and can really inspire them and therefore hopefully push their achievement levels up.”
The lesson involved the pupils watching clips from the classic Manchester derby match of 2009, which saw United beat City 4-3 following a goal from Michael Owen in the 96th minute, and analysing passes and goal attempts whilst Jonny made his way around the class to give advice.
Following the session, the Northern-Irish defender who is renowned within the team for being a maths whizz, said, “I enjoyed maths at school but it’s one of those subjects that most people dread so it can be hard to encourage kids to engage with maths. Hopefully if they see someone like myself who enjoys it they might be more encouraged and today has shown that they can use maths in terms of sports.”
He added, “It does feel weird to be back in a maths lesson but I have a 14-year-old sister so I get text messages through regularly asking if I can come round and help her with her homework. It’s good to come here and see the kids and be put back into a classroom atmosphere.”
Year 9 pupil Ross decided to test Jonny’s mental maths ability: “What’s 2784 x 423?” However the grade A player joked he would need a calculator for such a sum.
After the lesson, Ross said, “It’s an amazing experience to have a professional footballer come into our school and help us out with this project. Having the Foundation in our school is really good because we get opportunities that we wouldn’t at other schools.”
The three-year partnership between New Charter Academy and Manchester United Foundation is through the Hub of the Community programme which focuses on helping young people to develop major life skills such as leadership, team work and positive behaviour.
Paul Jacques, Senior Vice Principal at New Charter, said of the partnership, “We are very lucky indeed to have the involvement of Manchester United Foundation and it has had a tremendous impact, all the way from year 7 to year 13. We’ve had so many different people coming in and looking at different aspects of the school curriculum so what we have here at New Charter Academy is an ideal, unique opportunity which hopefully all the staff and students will take full advantage of.”