The partnership sees the Foundation investing in the development of girls’ football in the local community across South Manchester, offering coaching opportunities and providing pathways to just short of 1,000 girls that are involved within the league.
A group of over sixty girls aged 6-14 from clubs registered with the league, took part in drills focusing on the basics of goalkeeping including warm ups, handling and shot stopping, which were delivered by Foundation coaches and goalkeepers from its Centre of Excellence.
10-year-old, Georgia, plays for Winton Wanderers U11 team and described her thoughts on the day: “We did some warm-ups and passing and then played some matches, I like that we were able to meet new people and enjoy ourselves. I’ve learnt a lot of new skills today and that it is important to work together as a team.”
Winton Wanderers U11 manager, Jamie Lennon, was thrilled that his players were able to experience some free coaching and said, “It’s excellent for the girls to come and learn the basics of goalkeeping as some of them are just starting out. Georgia is our number one keeper but we have another player here who has never thought about being in goal and she has really enjoyed it too.”
He added, “I think the kids here today will take a lot from the sessions, especially as it has been delivered by Manchester United Foundation coaches; they can take those skills into their games so it’s been a great experience for them.”
Some of United’s Centre of Excellence keepers were also on hand to help, with experienced U17 shot stopper, Emily, leading a session herself. Emily has been with the Centre since the age of nine but discussed the lack of specific coaching when she was involved in grassroots clubs: “When I was younger there wasn’t any training around for goalkeepers; I had two years at grassroots and I remember one bit of advice I was given about goal kicks, to toe-poke it as hard as I could to get some height and distance.”
She added, “When you’re younger you are usually stuck in goal for various reasons such as not being good outfield or not wanting to run around. But when you come to workshops like this you see a different side to it and have fun, it’s more enjoyable and you want to do it more. The more quality practice these girls get, the better they are going to be when they are older and it improves their chance of playing for a decent team.”
Foundation Girls’ Football Development Manager, Emma Fletcher, explained the importance of investing in grassroots girls’ football: “It’s fantastic to work in partnership with the South Manchester Girls’ league. Having managed the Manchester United Girls’ Centre of Excellence over the last seven years, we understand the importance of investment in the girls grassroots game so that every girl with a passion for football has the opportunity to play regularly and be coached by qualified coaches.”
She added, “The workshops that we are running are a launch pad for girls to take their game to the next level and will help to raise the confidence of the players and the profile of the local league.”