Tony talked to PE GCSE students from years 9, 10 and 11 and BTEC and A-level students about his daily duties working with the Manchester United first team and his experiences with some of the world’s greatest footballers - including the great Cristiano Ronaldo.
As the Tameside youngsters listened in wonder at Tony’s career achievements with the Premiership Champions, they were also galvanised by his advice and down to earth anecdotes, such as his admission that he had to re-sit his A-levels so that he could study Sports Science at Loughborough University.
16-year-old David Whyatt (pictured top left) who lives in Oldham and is studying PE A-level at NCA said:
“Today’s been really important to us; it helps us keep track, because a lot of the students in the A-level PE group want a career in the fitness and sport industry. To have a professional come in kind of sets you a goal to get to his level.” He added, “Tony came across just like a regular person; he talked about not getting the grades he wanted at A-level first time round and it shows it’s the people who are persistent and keep at it who will achieve their goals in the end.”
David, whose career ambition is to become a Royal Marine was delighted to be selected as one of 15 pupils to join the Manchester United coach in a workshop in the NCA fitness suite. The group are developing a strength and conditioning programme as part of their GCSE and A-level coursework and did not hesitate to pick the wits of their special guest.
After putting the students through their paces Tony reflected, “Manchester United Foundation performs a great service for the club in the community and is always keen for us to get involved in work outside our daily duties at the Aon Training Complex, so it’s nice to come back out in to the community and put something back.
“It’s gratifying to come back to school and speak to these young kids who have got their whole future in front of them and try and give them a few little ideas about how they could progress.”
Neil Simpson, Head of Sport and Health at NCA said, “Today has been a great experience for the students to see the career paths that are available to them in terms of PE, sport, fitness and health.
"All the students Tony has met today will be doing fitness programmes as part of their course work, so it was interesting for them to speak to Tony and ask questions about designing training programmes, developing and sustaining fitness levels and to hear what he does at the elite level compared to at a school level.
“There has been a lot of excitement amongst the students about today’s visit, especially the United fans. This is a coach who deals with Wayne Rooney and Van Persie on a day-to-day basis, so there has been a high level of excitement about it and it’s been incredibly valuable to teachers and pupils alike.”
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. Foundation coach, Claire Mulvenna, who is based full-time at NCA, concludes that the Manchester United coach’s visit had had perfect effect:
"Tony's visit has left a buzz around the staff and pupils of New Charter Academy PE department. His clear message of pursuing your aspirations to achieve your dream job has inspired the students to focus on their goals and work hard.”