Manchester United Foundation has been recognised at the Northwest Football Awards with two award wins, honouring its programmes and staff for their incredible work.
The Foundation was successful in two categories, winning the Promoting Inclusion award in association with Kick It Out for its Inclusive Reds disability football provision, while head of girls’ football development Emma Fletcher won the Unsung Hero award.
Inclusive Reds is the Foundation's disability and inclusion programme, which aims for equal sport and physical activity opportunities for disabled young people and their families.
With over 2,300 participants, 14 teams and over 34,000 hours of delivery in the 2021/22 season, Inclusive Reds is the largest disability football provision in the UK and comprises a number of innovative and impactful projects.
Disability and inclusion co-ordinator Matthew Pilkington said: “We are delighted that our Inclusive Reds project has been successful in the Promoting Inclusion category, in association with Kick It Out, at the Northwest Football Awards.
“From Rooney’s Inclusive Reds, Ability Counts and the FA para-football talent hub, to our partner special schools, our hard-working and talented team ensure that inclusion is at the heart of everything we do - not only across our disability and inclusion provision, but all of Manchester United Foundation’s life-changing projects.
“Our disability provision continues to grow – with 166% increase in female participation. Alone since the 2018/19 season – and we look forward to developing and improving our offer to create more opportunities for disabled young people in the region.”
In her role as head of girls’ development, Unsung Hero winner Emma Fletcher, who is also the manager of the Foundation’s FA Girls’ Regional Talent Club [RTC], has overseen the progression of talented female players – including the likes of United’s Ella Toone and Millie Turner – through from the RTC into the women’s professional game.
Eighteen graduates from the Regional Talent Club have progressed into playing full-time in the women’s game in the WSL and Championship, under Emma’s watch.
Emma said: “It is a humbling feeling to have won the Northwest Football Awards’ Unsung Hero award. We have always strived to ensure that our Regional Talent Club is the best in the country so that talented girls in and around Greater Manchester have the best opportunity to develop their skills in an elite environment.
“It fills me with great pride to have played a role in the development of so many exceptional women, not only as talented footballers, but as confident role models who set an example to younger generations. Being supported by such a fantastic, passionate and committed coaching team over several years continues to be a real pleasure.”
The Foundation also congratulates the club’s academy for its success in the Moment of the Season category. The successful FA Youth Cup final at Old Trafford was the winning moment, after it was played out in front of a record-breaking 67,492 crowd for a youth fixture, where over £50,000 was raised for the Foundation.