Chris Smalling and Alexander Büttner presented the year 6 pupils with signed certificates and tablet computers for their schools as a reward for taking part in the extra-curricular activity with the older high school students.
The Burnage Media Arts College students who helped out with the project were also invited to Aon Training Complex, as were pupils from fellow Manchester United Foundation partner school, Manchester Enterprise Academy, and were given the chance to quiz the football players about their careers and interests.
Smalling and Büttner shared stories about how it felt to sign for the Reds, where they might be if they weren’t playing football and gave advice about working hard to succeed:
“It’s everyone’s dream to become a professional footballer but it’s never guaranteed so I carried on at school, went to sixth form and studied hard for my exams,” said Smalling. “I was always playing football after school though and training hard and luckily I got noticed towards the end of college.”
Following the meet and greet session, 10-year-old Lewis Robinson from Mauldeth Road Primary in Burnage said, “I was really excited, I told everyone I was coming to meet some Manchester United players and they didn’t believe me.” He added, “I want to be a policeman and the players have made me realise you need to stick to what you want to do and train hard for it.”
Matthew Burgess, 14, attends Manchester Enterprise Academy in Wythenshawe and was invited to attend after he turned his behaviour around in school. He commented, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; I’m a big United fan so it was good to hear how they became footballers and what inspired them. Opportunities like this show me that if I behave well in school I could get more treats and get to go on trips.”
Burnage Media Arts College and Manchester Enterprise Academy are two of nine schools that are part of the Foundation’s Hub of the Community programme, 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.
Wafiq Syed, a 15-year-old pupil from Burnage who helped with the primary school film project concluded, “It’s great having the Foundation coming into our school; we do regular tournaments and I find it interesting to work alongside someone who works so closely with United because I can ask them questions and advice. It also drives you to work hard as you might get opportunities like today.”
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Find out more about the Hub of the Community programme.