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Manchester United players celebrate with local schoolchildren

The Manchester United first-team squad joined local schoolchildren as they took part in an event to celebrate the work of Manchester United Foundation in the local community.

| by Katie Newton

Manchester United players celebrate with local schoolchildren

The players showed huge community spirit as they took part in activities at the Aon Training Complex and at Foundation partner schools across Greater Manchester as part of the third annual #SchoolsUnited initiative.

Paul Pogba and Juan Mata led players at the Aon Training Complex as they joined pupils trying their hand at football-related games such as inflatable football darts, football pong and a free-kick challenge.

Enjoying his first #SchoolsUnited event, Pogba said, "It is always memorable doing work with the Foundation; we just want to make kids happy.  For me, when I was a kid, it was a dream to meet a footballer, so it's good to do things like this and to be an example for children as they are the future.”

An ongoing supporter of the Foundation, Mata added, "The work that the Foundation does in Manchester is incredible and it's nice for us to get involved and take part in some challenges with the kids – some of them are even better than us!”

Across Manchester, Michael Carrick and Phil Jones visited Loreto High School in Chorlton, whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ashley Young surprised pupils at Manchester Academy in Moss Side.  The players visited English, French and Maths lessons, before taking part in football activities to showcase the Foundation's Street Reds provision, an evening football programme that takes place at 12 locations across the city.

Speaking at his first Foundation visit since joining Manchester United at the beginning of the season, Mkhitaryan said, "It's always a pleasure to meet children because we have been kids as well and have studied at school so it's always important to come and support them and help them to find the right way.”

Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian visited Moorfield and St Joseph the Worker primary schools in Irlam where they joined in with Move With Manchester United and Premier League Reading Stars sessions, initiatives aimed at helping young children learn fundamental movement and reading skills.

Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford visited pupils at Albion Academy in Salford whilst Bastian Schweinsteiger and Daley Blind toured Manchester Health Academy in Wythenshawe, at which they surprised year 9 pupils studying for a Foundation leadership award and took part in a Q&A.

Schweinsteiger said, "It's nice to see a school here in England as I have never been before so it's fun to see how it works over here.  When I was young I tried to avoid the classroom and focus on football – I looked up to players that had a lot of experience so now I try to do the same here for the kids. It's great to meet them and I am really impressed.”

Pupil Rukayett couldn't believe that she got to meet the players: "I can't wait to go home and tell my brother who will be absolutely jealous when he finds out that I passed the ball to Jesse Lingaard in a football match today,” she said. "I'm absolutely buzzing; I just can't believe I've just met Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford!”

#SchoolsUnited is a Manchester United Foundation initiative to celebrate and showcase the club charity's extensive work in local communities and 20 partner schools across Greater Manchester.