The two goalkeepers welcomed the new staff members to the Aon Training Complex in Carrington, which is located just a stone’s throw from where the community cohesion project will be based. After discussing the aims of Street Reds with the team, Anders Lindegaard commented:
“Projects like this are so important for engaging with kids in a difficult community, where football, as the beautiful game it is, can really contribute to developing them and getting kids on the right path in life. It helps them to stay out of trouble and creates social bonds; that’s why football is so beautiful. It must also be good to come with the United badge. I can imagine that is a great motivator to encourage young people to attend.”
Street Reds aims to engage young people in underprivileged areas by delivering football coaching and a range of alternative activity sessions at times when they could otherwise become involved in anti-social behaviour.
Encouraging participants to volunteer and gain qualifications is a core practice across the Foundation’s existing projects in Stretford, Old Trafford, Salford, Whalley Range, Burnage and Wythenshawe; and Partington is the latest area to benefit. Four members of the new team have volunteered in their local area for over a year through the Foundation. Simon Holt (18), Jordon Gee (18) and Wes Fagin, (33) are all from Partington and have volunteered at Broadoak High School, one of the Foundation’s partner schools. 22 year old Joab Westwood from Trafford has also given up his free time to work on the Foundation’s existing Street Reds sessions in Old Trafford and Stretford. Dean Elull will act as head coach and previously worked at Arsenal’s Premier League Kicks programme.
Jordon Gee said: “I started by doing work experience with the Foundation within Broadoak High School and I continued to volunteer after that. I received so much from Manchester United Foundation and I cannot thank them enough, so I’d like to give that back to the community that I live in because it is really needed there. Hopefully I can give them the opportunities that I’ve had. It’s had a massive effect on the community already, my sister attended and the confidence she gained through football just from one or two sessions was just incredible. I can’t imagine what it can do over so many weeks.”
Simon Holt added, “The fact that we are from Partington is so important because the kids can see that there is a path to move up. Sometimes you don’t realise there is a path there for you and you think you can’t reach the top, so it’s always good to see that people in your area can get that high, and you can yourself. It gives people motivation and shows it’s not always doom and gloom.”
Dawn Bracegirdle, cohesion manager commented, “The project is literally a mile away from the Aon Training Complex so they see the players drive down the road. To be so close and for this area to be associated with Manchester United is a really powerful thing. It’s really inspiring for our young people. The Foundation’s ethos is about empowering young people and assisting them to reach their full potential. Youth unemployment is a real issue, so now more than ever, it is important for us to support them to develop the skills and qualifications that will hopefully lead them to finding a job they enjoy. Some of our new coaches have gained those tools through our volunteering programme and we are delighted to now be in a position to offer them paid work.”
Run in partnership with the Premier League, Your Housing Group and Trafford Housing, Street Reds runs on Friday evenings between 5pm and 8pm at Partington Sports Village.
Find out more about Street Reds.