This month’s FA Cup tie with Swansea did not provide a dream result for any United fan, but thanks to club sponsor and principal partner of the Foundation, Aon, it was an occasion to remember for seven local teenagers from the Foundation’s Street Reds project.
Nico Pemberton, Aidan McGloin, Jack Boland, Kieffer Anderson, Kalvin Morris, Jake Artus and Lily Cullen were all invited into Aon’s Centennial Suite – Old Trafford’s most prestigious hospitality package – as a reward for their hard work and continued dedication to the project.
After a VIP tour of the stadium, the group were then treated to a sumptuous four-course menu as they sat just a few doors away from where first team stars Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic watched the Reds while out of action. As if this wasn’t enough, United legends Denis Irwin and Andy Cole also stopped by with the Premier League trophy, much to the delight of all involved.
“The food was posh, very posh,” explained 17-year-old Kalvin, who attends Street Reds in Salford. “It was probably the first time the caterers have been asked for tomato sauce in the Aon box! It was brilliant though – I felt like I was famous.”
Expanding on that point, fellow volunteer Jake was similarly enthused by the day: “We met Denis and Andy, plus Vidic was close by, and we also saw Patrice Evra and Marouane Fellaini just down the corridor. We could definitely get used to it.”
Having chatted to the youngsters and posed for photographs, Irwin heaped praise on the group and commended the staff’s unrelenting commitment to the Street Reds project. “It is very nice of Aon to give them the suite, it is a fantastic viewing area but they deserve it,” the Reds legend said.
“They do an awful lot of work and give up a lot of their time, at night time in particular, to do what they have to do. It’s all over the place as well, not just in Trafford but also in the Manchester and Salford areas. They spend hours at night, enticing young kids to come and play football and I think it is fantastic that they keep them off the street. They deserve this day and it is all about them.”
Notably, in July 2013, it was announced that Aon would become the title sponsor of the Foundation and John Shiels, Foundation chief executive, is optimistic that the partnership can continue to reward youngsters for their admirable work in the local community.
“Aon is now our principal partner, which is just fantastic for the Foundation and we can’t thank them enough for the opportunity they have given these kids today,” Shiels explains.
“They were selected by coaching staff who have seen them develop and improve over the last 12 months and it is fantastic to see them in this environment enjoying a once in a lifetime experience. It’s really important that we can reward young people when they are doing well.”
View more images from the event on Facebook.
Find out more about Street Reds.