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FC Brugge Flag Bearers

Foundation participants take to the pitch at Champions League qualifying fixture.

A group of 29 Manchester United Foundation participants were recently involved in the return of Champions League football at Old Trafford.

| by Thomas Jones

Foundation participants take to the pitch at Champions League qualifying fixture.

Young people from the Volunteer Ninety Nine programme and Girls’ Centre of Excellence football teams had the honour of bearing the UEFA Champions League flag in front of 75,000 fans ahead of kick-off. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was a reward for the young people who have made excellent progress over the last season.

Debora Barbosa, an international student from Brazil, has spent the past 12 months volunteering at various Foundation projects. As a huge Manchester United fan the experience was one which Debora will never forget. “It was an indescribable feeling standing on the pitch and seeing the thousands of fans,” she said. “It made me very happy when I found out I was being involved. The atmosphere was amazing and it was surreal to be standing so close to the players. It made me feel special to be there and the experience has filled me with confidence.”

Foundation volunteering coordinator, Martin Ingham, explained the importance of rewarding young people who regularly give their time for free at Foundation projects. He said, “Champions League nights at Old Trafford have a unique feeling to them; there’s a buzz around the stadium and travelling fans always add to the atmosphere so it’s an amazing opportunity for our participants to be part of the Champions League experience. To stand on the Old Trafford pitch in front of a packed stadium is the stuff of dreams for most young people.”

Find out more about our volunteering opportunities and the FA Girls' Centre of Excellence.