With the return of grassroots sport and community projects, Manchester United Foundation was thrilled to receive the generous donation of 4,500 pieces of kit from club global partner, adidas. The donation, which included a variety of United shirts, tracksuits and coats, went towards the continued effort to support the mental and physical wellbeing of young people across the local community, rewarding their efforts in school and providing another boost ahead of their return to the pitch.
Staff from across the club volunteered their time to pack over 2,000 boxes and helped to distribute them to 63 Foundation partner schools and colleges. In what has been a difficult year for schoolchildren, the boxes went some way to celebrate those who have shown improved behaviour, kindness and hard work, either at home or at school during lockdown.
The impact of the gifts was felt across the schools; Steph Lonsdale, assistant headteacher at The East Manchester Academy (TEMA), said: “It’s just fantastic for us. The size of the donation is not something we could afford to put together for the students ourselves and it’s great to be able to recognise their hard work during lockdown.
“We’re hoping the donation makes students feel valued as we recognise how much resilience, independence and skill online learning required”, she added. “adidas is a brand our students really value, so to receive these boxes makes the children feel seen, valued and recognised. It’s really, really important for them.”
Recognised for being the most engaged student in online learning, Victoria, aged 13, from TEMA was one of those to receive a gift. She said: “It makes me feel really proud and thankful; I feel really special and fortunate to have been given this gift. There were times that I felt isolated as I couldn’t see my friends; I’m so relieved to be back at school now so I can see everyone.”
Elsewhere, at partner school Royton and Crompton E-ACT Academy, 14-year-old Promise was another student recognised for her behaviour during the pandemic. Recently moving to England from Spain, she has not only become fluent in English, but she has now taken it upon herself to mentor, teach and help new students from different countries to learn English and settle into school life.
Andrea Atkinson, headteacher at the school, said: “We are incredibly proud and delighted to present Promise with our first donation from the delivery. I’d like to say a special thank you to adidas for their kind donation that has brought many smiles to the faces of our students who have and will be rewarded over the next few weeks.”
The donation coincides with the return of grassroots sport, with many pupils looking forward to wearing their new kit on the pitch at Foundation sessions over the coming weeks and months. The absence of physical activity has been sorely missed by schoolchildren and Jason Williamson, high school partnership coordinator at Manchester United Foundation, said the return would provide a huge boost to children’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Jason said: “Our young people need to be active. The students need to get back out there and engage with friends; it’s so important from a social aspect for their development.”
In March, a phased return of Foundation projects began with the Girls’ Regional Talent Club being the first to restart, followed by disability football programme Ability Counts. Street Reds has also restarted sessions.