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United Ambition ball assistant

Manchester United Foundation makes history as leadership course leads to first ball-girl roles at Old Trafford

United Ambition, the first girls-only non-sport leadership programme run by a Premier League club, has culminated in participants becoming the first ball-girls to serve Manchester United.

| by Katie Newton

Manchester United Foundation makes history as leadership course leads to first ball-girl roles at Old Trafford

Offered to female students aged 14-15 from Manchester United Foundation partner schools, United Ambition is a bespoke six-month scheme aimed at developing five key skills of organisation, communication, teamwork, strategic thinking and influencing others.

17 girls were selected through an application process carried out at partner schools across Greater Manchester as they embarked upon a series of workshops, seminars, work place visits, a two-day camp at Old Trafford and a trip to London.  The girls’ final challenge was to work at the Manchester United vs Bayern Munich legends match at Old Trafford in June, at which many girls took on the role of ball assistants, a position which has now been extended into the Premier League.

At the end of course presentation evening, 15-year-old participant Sana said, “The programme has taught me to take every opportunity that comes your way; I feel like the more opportunities you take, the wider variety of things you can do in the future.”

Fellow participant Dariah says that United Ambition has helped to build her confidence and make friends following her recent move to Manchester from the Turks and Caicos Islands:  “The most important thing I’ll take away from the programme is confidence. When I first came here I couldn’t talk to anyone and make eye contact but the girls really helped and convinced me to open up. Through that I got to build up my communication and confidence skills, and meet really friendly, nice people.”

Team GB hammer thrower Sarah Holt has been involved with United Ambition throughout the course, attending sessions and giving the girls advice based on her own career.  At the presentation evening she congratulated the girls and selected Dariah to receive a Great Britain training top as a reward for her progress.  Sarah said, “I’m quite a big believer in young people of this age believing in themselves so I thought that if I could share my experiences then it would be something that would be really rewarding for me to do and hopefully help them. 

“Dariah is one of those people who are quite heart-warming,” Sarah continued.  “You can see she’s such a nice person and even now you can see she has so much to give she just needs to be confident.  I could have given ten shirts out; they’ve all inspired me in different ways.”

As a result of the success of United Ambition, female students from Manchester United Foundation partner schools will now be selected as Old Trafford ball-assistants for the first time alongside boys for the 2015-16 season.