The visit was organised through the College’s partnership with the Foundation, which sees a full-time coach based at Irlam to work with students at the school and feeder primary schools to build relationships in the surrounding area.
Foundation coach and academy goalkeeper coach Chris Bowcott took the session and Sam joined in, demonstrating techniques and giving training advice to the pupils before answering questions about his career so far.
The young keepers were interested to hear how, as a teenager, Sam left home and learnt to balance school with training for one of the biggest football clubs in the world: “I moved from Preston to Manchester when I was 14, away from my family, and went to a school where we left early every day to go and train,” Sam explained. “It was good but at that age it’s a big thing to move away and go to a new school with new people, but if you want to play football you have to do these things.”
Following the visit, Sam said, “It’s good that the club gets involved with local schools; the lads in the session enjoyed it and I did too. It’s great for the kids who love football, and support Manchester United, for any player to come down and help them out, give them advice and just be around. I know if I was a young kid I’d enjoy it and it could make them work harder and give them the confidence to maybe go somewhere in football.”
Dan Prescott, a teaching assistant in the PE department at Irlam and Cadishead College, said, “It was a huge privilege to have Sam Johnstone come into the school and share his experience with some of our young, up and coming footballers. Being in partnership with Manchester United Foundation is a massive positive for the pupils and the school and will only become more and more successful. The training the pupils and staff gain from the coaches is second to none; you can’t buy that kind of knowledge and experience. This leads to a massive difference in the pupils’ motivation and attitude.”
Year 9 pupil, Jack Ratcliffe, added, "It was ace to have Sam Johnstone come into our school and do a session with us. He told us that it was hard work and determination that has got him where he is today; I think I and my fellow pupils can take positives from that. Having the coaches from United working in our school is brilliant; it gives us opportunities that not many people get."
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