Smalling spent his time demonstrating a series of drills based around heading and defending as well spending one on one time talking with participants from the session.
Martin Ingham who is the volunteering co-ordinator for the Foundation explained the Volunteer Ninety Nine project and its importance to the Foundation. “Volunteer Ninety Nine is based on three levels of committed hours and gives participants the chance to achieve their very own Treble,” he said. “Each level represents a trophy, so 33 hours represents the FA Cup, 66 hours represents the Premier League and 99 hours represents the Champions League.”
Martin added, “Over 99 hours, participants will work with an experienced member of staff and they will also gain qualifications so the aim is that they are employable, if not by the Foundation then we would work with those young people to find work elsewhere.”
17-year-old Thriston, who has been involved with the Foundation for the last seven years, explained how volunteering has helped his development. “Believe it or not I’ve been a part of it from when the first session began in Old Trafford,” he said. “I was there at the age of 11 and here I am today. Volunteering has made me a more rounded person with new experiences, new surroundings and it’s all something to take in, really.”
Smalling was also complimentary about the benefits of volunteering and how important it is for the Foundation to run such projects. He said, “Every kid wants to play some form of sport, whether its football or any sport, so to have facilities like this and for the Foundation to be able to provide these opportunities, I think it’s valuable.
“Quite few of the volunteers started here at this project, so it’s nice to see them giving something back and that there is a pathway for them to be successful.”