Pupils from eight schools across Greater Manchester were invited to the first-team training ground in Carrington to enjoy question and answer sessions with Red favourites Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Rafael de Silva, Jonny Evans and Anders Lindegaard.
The players shared stories of pre-training rituals, where they might be if they weren’t playing for the greatest team in the world, and how it will feel to lift the Premier League trophy on Sunday.
Rafael said, “To win the league gives us a great sense of achievement; it will feel so special to lift the trophy.” Whilst Anders shared that his greatest role model is his dad, and that he loved science in school so may have taken that route had he not followed his childhood dream to become a footballer.
Following the Q&A the players handed out signed certificates to the pupils for their academic achievements this term, before posing for photographs.
Zaigham Ali Shan, a pupil from Burnage Media Arts College, was chosen to attend the meet and greet for being an outstanding student who helps out a lot at the school. He commented, “It feels great to be here today; I really appreciate it as not a lot of people get the chance. You read about football but it’s different when you hear things directly from the players themselves; it felt more connected, with more thought and emotion put into it.”
Kirah Power from Manchester Enterprise Academy added, “My attendance has improved a lot since last year and this visit has inspired me to keep it up. I was really excited and nervous beforehand because I didn’t know what to expect but the players were really laid back and easy to talk to and more jokey than I expected.”
Following the visit, United defender Jonny Evans said, “It’s great that we can meet pupils and give them a little bit of inspiration. When they ask us questions like ‘How did you become a footballer?’ I tell them the most important things are hard work and always striving to be the best that you can be at anything. I think words like that can inspire a child to go on and be whatever they want to be or at least give it a go.”
Chris Hirst, a teacher at Stretford High School, said, “When you have an organisation like Manchester United in the community it is wonderful that they recognise and work with us. They are able to provide an aspiration for our students; they are something for us to look up to, and our partnership with the Foundation is something that we are very proud of.”
Astley Sports College, Broadoak School, Burnage Media Arts College, Irlam and Cadishead College, Manchester Enterprise Academy, Manchester Health Academy, New Charter Academy and Stretford High School are all part of the Foundation’s Hub of the Community project, which provides full time Community Development Officers to work with students at the school and feeder primary schools to build relationships in the surrounding area. Find out more.