In an effort to support local communities and raise awareness of the Foundation, the full Under-18 squad took time out of their busy schedule to play and coach budding young footballers at Carrington. Over fifty students aged 11-13, visited the training ground from local high schools to play five-a-side tournaments and engage with the Academy players. Joining in with the teams, either playing or managing, the U18s gave advice and tips on the students’ techniques, understanding the impact it can have on those that dream of being a professional footballer.
All proceeds from tickets sales for the final have gone to the Foundation, and highlighting the significance of funding community programmes, U18s captain Rhys Bennett said: “United is one big family, but with proceeds going to Manchester United Foundation you know it’s going back into the community.
“The community includes the ones supporting us, our friends and family. We’ve grown up not far from here, so it’s amazing to know that our cup final is pumping money back into the community; it’s a great feeling.”
Teammate Maximillian Oyedele also understood the value of the day: “Over the season we’ve done quite a lot of activities with the Foundation and working with underprivileged kids. It’s been really good to be integrated with them, talking to them.
“Being able to raise over £60,000 with the ticket sales, it’s unbelievable! It’s good to work with the Foundation and hopefully it will continue into next season.”
Charlie McNeill said: “Being from Manchester, I know the important work that the Foundation does every day in supporting young people across the area. Knowing that we can play a small part in that through the ticket sales from the Youth Cup Final is a special feeling and something we are all really proud of.”
Working in 60 primary, secondary and special educational needs schools across all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester, the Foundation delivers educational and community outreach programmes to help young people make better choices in their lives. By doing this, it focuses on employability, social wellbeing and physical and mental health, something the Academy players have championed in recent months, visiting schools to help raise awareness and conversations around mental health.
John, aged 13 from The East Manchester Academy, particularly enjoyed the experience: “It was a great opportunity to play with the U18s and show the United coaches our skills. Coming here with the Foundation is so important, because not every school would get this kind of opportunity.”
Riley, aged 11 from Middleton Technology School, said: “It felt really good getting to meet all the players; we got to show them our football skills and play with them. One day we might be watching them on TV and know we got to play with them; it’s amazing!”
United’s upcoming FA Youth Cup final against Nottingham Forest, which kicks off at 19:30 BST on Wednesday 11 May. Supporters can still purchase tickets here with all proceeds going to the Foundation.