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United Ambition: Girls leadership programme

Manchester United Foundation has made history by launching the first girls-only leadership programme run by a Premier League club.

| by Katie Newton

Foundation launches the Premier League’s first girls-only leadership programme

Offered to female students aged 14-15, ‘United Ambition’ is a bespoke six-month scheme aimed at developing five key skills of organisation, communication, teamwork, strategic thinking and influencing others.

17 girls have been selected through an application process carried out at Manchester United Foundation partner schools across Greater Manchester and they will embark upon a series of workshops, seminars, work place visits, a two-day camp at Old Trafford and a trip to London.

The launch event took place in the Manchester United museum at Old Trafford on Thursday 5th February, an apt location for girls who are set to add to the club’s extensive history.

The girls were addressed by successful businesswoman Yvonne Harrison, chief executive of Greater Sport, and she proved to be an inspiration to the young students.

“When Yvonne told us her journey it really inspired me,” said 14-year-old Sasha from Irlam and Cadishead College.  “I’m going to work a lot harder now and try to be like her because she’s got really far and is doing really well in the sport industry and I like the sound of that.”

Enas from New Charter Academy added, “Being part of United Ambition means so much to me because it will enable me to gain confidence and leadership skills. It will also allow me to meet people who could help me in my future career.”

Yvonne Harrison worked her way up within the male orientated sports industry from an apprentice to chief executive of Greater Sport and had some sound advice for the girls.

“In this industry I’ll often walk into a boardroom or high level meeting and it’s majority men but therefore I have a unique selling point,” Yvonne said. “I’m not one of them; I look different, I sound different, I think differently and that’s a thing to be treasured and valued as opposed to be hidden away.

“It was an honour to be asked to be involved in the launch of this programme and I’d advise the girls to go into it with an open mind, learn to step out of their comfort zone and just fully immerse themselves.  It’s also important to think about how they can use what they’ve learnt in everyday life and back at school because putting things into practise is where you get the most benefit.”

During the course of United Ambition, the girls will be encouraged to complete an entry level events management qualification and the programme will culminate in participation at the Manchester United Legends v Bayern Munich All Stars match held at Old Trafford on 14th June 2015.

Project coordinator Claire Mulvenna concluded, “It’s a great opportunity for the girls to develop key personal skills, organisational skills and team work.  We want them to have aspirations and to show them that there are different opportunities for women within football and sport.”