United’s Dance Champions
The 20 youngsters who travelled to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens for the United Dance Organisation North West Championships, have been attending street dance sessions as part of Manchester United Foundation’s Street Reds project, which provides free football and alternative activities to young people in the evenings and at weekends.
The teams emerged victorious in both the U14 Advanced and U18 Advanced categories at the event, as well as scooping a host of individual and smaller group accolades.
“The young people were determined to win and they’ve just worked so hard; they really deserved the success they’ve achieved,” explained dance instructor Christina Taylor.
“You never get a facility like this where children can come and train for free and the fact that Manchester United Foundation funded the competition is just brilliant, it makes it accessible to everyone.”
Street Reds is a project that works locally with a range of partners to provide free evening activities for youngsters at nine locations across Greater Manchester. The project runs for 48 weeks of the year and sessions operate in the evenings when other services are not available or when the need for diversionary activity is at its highest. The dance element was introduced to Street Reds 12 months ago and has proved a popular alternative to football.
Manchester United Foundation’s cohesion manager Dawn Bracegirdle explained: “The majority of those who attend are United fans but not many of them would have been interested in playing football, so it’s a different way for us to engage with young people.
"The sessions are all about offering opportunities to progress and try new things. Eventually, we hope to encourage them to find a pathway to employment; so they can start thinking about how to make a career out of dance or sport. These young people have been winning trophies, which is a fantastic achievement, but it has also done a lot for their confidence. Some of them are keen to volunteer and teach other children what they've learnt and that’s what Street Reds is all about.”
15-year-old dancer Reece from Cheadle, who came first in all three of the categories he entered, said: “I first started dancing when I was nine; my mum basically didn't like me being on the streets, so she wanted me to get involved with something and I chose dance.
“Manchester United being involved in this project has definitely had an impact because it gives us more motivation; we try harder and work harder. I’m a football fan so I love representing Manchester United. It’s given me a lot more confidence and it’s really helped me to progress.”
Watch the dancers in action - View more images on Facebook - Find out more about Street Reds