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Ashley Young taking part in a Premier League Enterprise teambuilding workshop

United players surprise pupils and take part in teambuilding challenges

Local school pupils received the surprise of their lives when Manchester United players dropped in on their teambuilding session at the Aon Training Complex.

| by Katie Newton

Children from Co-op Academy Swinton, a partner school of Manchester United Foundation, were invited to the Aon Training Complex to take part in an afternoon of challenges with the Foundation’s enterprise team.  The pupils had been selected by their Foundation coach as a reward for excelling in their Year 7 football team, but little did they know they would be joined by Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia.
Taking place in the Jimmy Murphy Visitors’ Centre at the first-team training ground in Carrington, the players joined the pupils had been participating in activities such as blind-folded giant Jenga and tower-making using marshmallows and spaghetti, in order to exercise trust and teamwork with their classmates.
Charlie, 11, said, “We were doing some activities then all of a sudden we heard voices round the corner and Valencia, Darmian and Young walked in and we all had shocked faces; I was so amazed that they were here.”
Jayden, 11, added, “We got invited to the training ground for doing so well in our football team and we thought we were just doing some teambuilding activities so I was really surprised when the players walked in as we didn’t know what was going to happen; I just can’t believe it.
“One of the challenges we did with Antonio was making a tower out of marshmallows and spaghetti, which was really hard as it kept falling over!”
The players rotated the challenges, helping the children and giving teamwork advice, before taking part in a Q&A.
Ashley Young said, “It’s important for the children to draw on what they have learnt today, keep working hard and keep listening to teachers who are saying the right things and giving the right guidance – and keep smiling.”
Chris Bowcott, the Foundation coach based full time at Co-op Academy Swinton, concluded, “The opportunity for the students to meet some of the first team players is brilliant. Some students have never been to a game at a football stadium, never mind met a player.
“To be able to interact with the players and ask them how they got to where they are now is a great experience for the students; they can take away a lot of good tips and use them in their daily routines to help them achieve their goals.”
Co-op Academy Swinton is linked to Manchester United Foundation through its partner school programme, which bases full time coaches in targeted areas to help build relationships with the local community and develop young people to achieve their potential.