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Norman Lee Fred MHA

United legend opens 3G facility at Manchester Health Academy

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland midfielder, Norman Whiteside, was the guest of honour at Manchester United Foundation partner school, Manchester Health Academy, during the recent opening of a new 3G pitch facility at the school.

| by Thomas Jones

United legend opens 3G facility at Manchester Health Academy

Whiteside, who has played in two World Cups with Northern Ireland and twice won the FA Cup with Manchester United, was reminiscent of his own footballing experiences as a youngster, he said “We used to just play in the street and had nothing like this. Even with the first astro turf pitches at Luton and QPR, they used to be like concrete with a green carpet on top. These pitches nowadays are phenomenal with all the weather they can sustain; it’s the closest you’ll get to grass although I don’t know about doing slide tackles! “

Norman added “These pitches are great for grassroots development, we started that way but we didn’t have the facilities. Apart from it being used for the school, the community also benefits from the facility with private bookings as the flood lights allow you to play for longer during the evenings. The headmaster says that outside of school it’s almost always full which has to be a good thing.”

Foundation coach Lee Caldwell, who is based at Manchester Health Academy, explained how beneficial the pitch would be to the school, he said, “The pitch provides the school with an opportunity to always play football no matter what the conditions are like. The pupils can see it’s a first class facility and they don’t need boots, so are always engaged play.”

He continued, “The fact that the pitch is hired out to the local community and it can finance itself and future projects within the school is fantastic.”