The event, organised by the Premier League, is considered the pinnacle of community youth football. A total of 58 professional football clubs were represented by their grassroots community projects for the chance to be crowned the Kicks cup winners. The tournament, split into girls and mixed teams, also saw the introduction of the UBO Kicks Street Dance finals which took place alongside a series of youth engagement workshops.
Johnny from the Moss Side Street Reds project was excited to be representing United at the tournament. He said, “I’ve found this tournament really helpful to test my skills. It’s good to be playing against other teams representing Watford, Swansea, West Ham. I also prefer playing seven-a-side as the games are quick and there are some good teams to play against.”
Goalkeeper Sabir also enjoyed the experience of being part of the tournament: “Today is all about having fun and showing your skills to everyone else while representing United,” he said. “It’s been a tough competition; it’s been raining and wet and we’re playing on proper muddy grass pitches so it’s been difficult but good fun.”
Manchester United Foundation community cohesion coordinator Thomas Oldbury praised the organisation of the event and its impact on the United representatives: “The Kicks Cup is one of our favourite events of the year,” he said. “It not only gives local young people the chance to visit other cities in the UK but it allows them to meet and play against participants from different backgrounds who are representing other professional clubs.”
Thomas added, “While most participants come to enjoy the football, the event runs much deeper than the tournament. The participants use the time to build new friendships and have access to the workshops and the street dance performances.”