The Foundation offers young people matchday opportunities in various different areas through its partner schools and projects. These include ball assistants, stadium welcomers and community football coaches. The roles are filled by over 40 young people who got their start after successful job interviews, with most applicants being well prepared thanks to their previous involvement with the Foundation.
Many of the participants have progressed through the Foundation’s BTEC in Sport in partnership with Salford City College, the United Futures Employability Programme and the Volunteer Ninety Nine (V99) programme.
Lucy, who presents the film, was a pupil at a Foundation partner school, at which she was part of the winning team for the 2016 Premier League Enterprise Challenge. Lucy has since progressed through the V99 programme, volunteering at the Salford Street Reds project and has recently started working towards her BTEC in Sport.
Since presenting the film, Lucy has taken up a role as a stadium welcomer herself. The match day welcome team are outside the stadium before and after matches to help supporters by answering questions, giving directions and offering assistance where needed. The role engages with supporters by handing out leaflets, taking photos, and giving away free gifts to ensure fans enjoy their Old Trafford experience.
Lucy said: “The welcome team aim to spread enthusiasm and passion, which is easy for me as I’ve been a United fan my entire life and my family have always had season tickets in the Stretford End!”
Another pivotal role for young people at Manchester United is that of a ball assistant. United currently have 30 ball assistants in position, where youngsters from across Foundation projects are given the opportunity to be a part of the Old Trafford action, following successful interviews and trial periods.
Luke, who was a pupil at partner school Great Academy Ashton, spoke of his excitement when accepting his dream job. “I'm a major United fan so I said I'd love to do it; I just knew it would be a great experience,” said Luke. “I've been involved with the Foundation for a while and done a few things through school like volunteering and refereeing at football events across Manchester.”
The community football coaches are based on the Apollo pitch outside the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, offering free football and coaching sessions, and adding to the overall experience of a matchday for young fans as they arrive at Old Trafford.
Tom Oldbury, football coordinator for the Foundation, said, “Many of the coaches also work across Greater Manchester at the evening Street Reds projects, but providing this service on a matchday gives them the chance to feel part of the club. They are able to develop their skills and interact with many different nationalities, which is great for their development.”
Rob Martin, Manchester United Foundation's employability and skills manager, explained why the roles are vital to the development of young people. Rob said: "These roles enable participants to learn, develop and prove a range of transferable skills for their future employment.”
Rob added: “The opportunities also increase their awareness of employment opportunities within and beyond the football industry. The young people learn different types of communication techniques and professional etiquette, which is essential for any future role.”
The Employability and Skills programme provides entry roles at Manchester United for young people who attend Foundation schools and projects. These opportunities can also be a stepping stone for future jobs and long-term employment, with many participants progressing to work across club departments in catering, museum, hospitality, megastore and matchday roles with managerial responsibility.