Children from Rackhouse, St. Wilfred’s, Northenden, Sandilands and Button Lane Primary schools played in a six-a-side tournament and showed off their skills to the Premier League star.
The visit was to highlight the MU Foundation’s involvement with the school and was part of Premier League Places for Players. As part of this initiative the Premier League has donated £20,000, which has been used to buy sporting equipment at the school.
The Manchester United Foundation was approached by Health Academy Principal Barry Burke around 18 months ago, to assist in educating children from the local area about the new ethos of the school. Manchester United Foundation now has a full time Football Development Officer based at the school as part of its hub-of-the-community project. Dave Chapman’s specific remit was to work with the five local feeder primary schools and encourage them to continue their education at the Academy.
Barry Burke said: “Helping us was a big risk for the Foundation and we are extremely thankful to John Shiels (chief executive) for putting his reputation on the line to assist us. It was a risk that really paid off. I am pleased to say that our school admissions are full for next year.”
The Health Academy has gone from a school which had around 17 pupils apply to full capacity in just 18 months.
Dave Chapman, Football Development Officer said: “There were children here at first who weren’t interested in the sport, but because we are here all the time they have become more and more involved with what we are doing. It is nice, as a coach, to be able to build relationships with the local community, and as a result we have managed to achieve our objective of more pupils applying to the school.”
Nemanja Vidic said: “I have been really impressed with what I have seen at the Health Academy today, there are great facilities here for the kids and the United coaches are making a real difference in the community. I think football can really capture people’s interest and if an organisation has the backing of Manchester United people know it will be a good facility.”