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Summer fun and games with United players

Local children from a Summer of Sport programme had the surprise of a lifetime when Manchester United players joined them for an afternoon of games and fun.

| by Rebecca Mee

In partnership with Trafford Council, Manchester United Foundation invited children involved in the summer holiday initiative to attend what they thought was a stadium tour of Old Trafford. The children from Partington Academy, Forest Gate Academy and Our Lady of Lourdes primary schools had been enjoying a museum tour and board games, and little did they know first-team players would be joining them.

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Matteo Darmian, Alexis Sanchez and Andreas Pereira stunned the room when they arrived to join in games of Uno, Money Snap, Jenga and other practical activities. They also took part in a Q&A with the children and signed shirts, certificates and posed for photos.

United midfielder Nemanja Matic enjoyed the experience and spending time with the children. He said, “It’s been a lot of fun; we’re very happy to be here with them today and I hope they are happy to see us and to be here at Old Trafford.”

Matic continued, “It’s very important that the Foundation gives young people these opportunities to use their school holiday in the best way; it’s very important to have programmes like this. I have three kids and the most important thing is that we make them happy; when you see the smiles on their faces it’s a great feeling”. 

Lilly-Brooke, aged 10, said, “It was more than I imagined could have happened today because I’m a big United fan; it’s the best thing.”

She continued, “To get this opportunity is more than I expected. I don’t usually get picked to do stuff like this. It’s fantastic because this is the best thing to ever happen.”

Classmate Darren added, “It’s been great; if I wasn’t here I’d just be at home on my Xbox.  When the players walked in I was very shocked because I didn’t know we were going to see them today. My favourite part was asking the players to sign my shirt and having the certificates signed.”

The children have been taking part in Trafford Council’s Summer of Sport programme that is supported by a various organisations across Manchester. Running throughout the holidays, children are given access to a variety of sports and trips to museums and libraries, while receiving free breakfast and lunches. The initiative also runs in conjunction with Street Games’ ‘Fit, Fed and Read’ programme.