Having first launched in 2018, the link-up between the Foundation and Ulster University established our first overseas base and has enabled students in Derry-Londonderry to enjoy the opportunity to develop business and entrepreneurial skills, increasing their engagement in education and giving them greater confidence in their own abilities.
Former United defender Wes Brown joined a panel of staff and students to discuss the partnership and opportunities on offer through the university, before meeting young people from schools across the Foyle Learning Community who benefit from the Foundation’s presence in Derry-Londonderry.
Ross, a university student who is studying cinematic arts and is part of our work placement programme, spoke to the assembled guests at Ulster’s Magee Campus about his experiences with the Foundation and presented a film he had made highlighting the work of the partnership.
“Being part of Manchester United Foundation has been a fantastic experience for me,” Ross said. “I’ve had some incredible opportunities, including the chance to fly over to Manchester to attend and capture behind-the-scenes footage at the Legends of the North charity match.
“I also created a film for today’s event, and it was a pleasure to be able to showcase my work. Without the Foundation I simply would not have had these opportunities.”
The short film certainly left an impression on the audience, including special guest Wes Brown:
“I’ve loved being over here in Derry-Londonderry, meeting the participants and seeing the work that we’re doing,” Wes said. “We’ve obviously done a lot of great work back home in Manchester, but United is a global club, so it’s fantastic to see the Foundation making an impact overseas too, particularly here in Northern Ireland, a country which has a strong connection with us.
“Ross’ video was absolutely brilliant and it’s great to see that the Foundation is giving students the opportunity to develop their skills and a platform to showcase their work.”
Malachy O’Neill, Director of Regional Engagement for Ulster University, added: “There is a certain gravitas that comes with Manchester United, which will go a long way to inspiring our young people. That was seen clearly here today as having someone with Wes’s stature really brings that magic dust.
“Working together, we’ve already been able to impact positively on the lives of youngsters in our city region and the link between us is now a key part of the university’s outreach programme.”
The Foundation’s work with Ulster University is part of wider plans to create a lasting impact on the Foyle Learning Community in Derry-Londonderry, something highlighted by the launch of our partnership with Oakgrove Integrated College.
This partnership is our first with a school in Northern Ireland, and was marked by a day of sporting activities for the pupils and the opportunity to quiz a United legend in their own school hall, as Wes fielded questions from the classes.
Katrina Crilly, school principal, said: “Today has been brilliant to see many months of hard work coming together for the start of something really exciting.
“Having Wes here to launch the partnership is simply phenomenal and there’s a real buzz around the school, both for what is going on here today but also for what the partnership promises for our school and feeder primaries. We’re so excited to be working with the Foundation.”
The school partnership will be overseen by Derry-Londonderry native and United fan Martin Smith, a Foundation coach based full-time in Oakgrove to work with the pupils and local community to build lasting relationships.
“It feels really special to be part of the Foundation’s first school partnership in Northern Ireland, especially as a local boy,” said Martin. “We’re passionate about impacting young lives through mentoring, leadership programmes, sport and much more, and it’s great to see the Foundation now doing this in Northern Ireland.
“We’ve got a lot of things planned and I can’t wait to get to work!”