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Making memories on a cultural exchange to Munich

In a recent cultural exchange, Manchester United Foundation’s youth voice panel represented our community in an unforgettable trip to Munich

| by Rebecca Mee

The group of young people, aged 15-17-years old, headed out to Munich on a three-day trip to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster before taking part in educational and cultural activities across the city.

Supported by the Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation [MMMF] – a charity dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Munich Air Disaster – the trip began with the invited young people attending the memorial service at Manchesterplatz.

In the days that followed, they participated in football tournaments and sightseeing activities hosted by local youth organisations, Pikassio Libero and Buntkicktgut.

In a once-in-a-lifetime visit, young people from the Foundation’s Street Reds Youth Voice panel went on the German exchange after being a part of a project which aims to empower others to use their voice and amplify change across Foundation programmes.

During the visit, participants paid their respects at the memorial ceremony before being greeted by United legend Bryan Robson and catching up with Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, who had previously championed the group on their desire to action social change.

Ciaran, aged 16, was one of those who was thrilled to be involved in the trip. He said: “It’s an honour that I get to represent Manchester United in a place like this. People keep coming up to us; it’s nice to answer questions and speak to the locals and tell them what we’re all about.”

Dany, 14, echoed his friend’s sentiment: “I’ve been going to Street Reds now for around three, maybe four years. I feel incredibly blessed and privileged by Manchester United Foundation right now, it’s something that I cannot put into words about how I feel. Honestly, I am speechless about this trip!”

Over the course of the trip the group met with youngsters from street league organisation Buntkicktgut, a charity that aims to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together through their passion for football.

Throughout the day, both sets of children took part in a variety of football tournaments, one of which included a special visit to the rooftop pitch at The Bellevue di Monaco, a residential and cultural centre for refugees and residents in the heart of the city.

Dany said: “One of my highlights was definitely meeting our German counterparts, who were with us to take part in the football. They were so welcoming, and engaging, it was very interesting to see how their life compared to ours, it was an amazing experience overall.”

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the iconic Allianz Arena, home to Bayern Munich, before embarking on a sightseeing tour hosted by staff and participants from youth charity, Pikassio Libero.

Reflecting on the trip and the impact on her personally, 15-year-old Arissa said: “I think it’s helped my mindset a lot for the future, what I want to do, what type of person I want to be when I grow up, helping people.

“It feels amazing; a dream come true to be honest. I never thought I would even be leaving Manchester, let alone going abroad! Anywhere the Foundation takes us, it’s just crazy, representing them and having to be the best person - the best version of yourself, I think it’s a great opportunity.”

Dany added: “It’s really helped me mature into a young adult, which I think is really going to help me in life, especially going forward.

“When I found out I was going, I was gobsmacked. It’s just helped us grow a stronger relationship [between the group] that I hope we can use to make an impact on future generations and our society.”