Ten students from Manchester United Foundation partner school Co-op Academy North Manchester recently made the trip to the Carrington Training Complex as a reward for their endeavours to develop themselves on various leadership programmes and courses.
Older students within the group have been involved with programmes such as the FA Playmaker course, the Sports Leaders UK Young Leaders award and refereeing level 1, with younger students taking part in voluntary work to give them a platform to gain a qualification in future.
The aim of the day was to give the pupils an insight into how Manchester United develops young players into high-level performers, and the methods of leadership that coaches use to do this.
To start with, the group were given a tour of the facilities by Wayne Cahill, Education Officer for the Academy, learning all about the key elements of a player’s development, and how nutrition, data and top-level sports science are used to monitor progress and build a budding youngster into the next Marcus Rashford. Then, onto the pitch.
Led by Academy Player Coach and former England international, Tom Huddlestone, students watched on as the players were put through their paces. Their season may have finished, but the session was as ferocious and competitive as if a cup final was on the horizon, showing the high standards that are always in play at Carrington, no matter the time of year.
Afterwards, there was the chance for the pupils to put their questions to Wayne, Tom and the players, and learn some tips and tricks from the very best, as they continue their own journey towards becoming the next generation of leaders in sport and society.
There was also still time for one final treat as United forward and Academy graduate Anthony Elanga came over to greet our youngsters, signing autographs, taking pictures and, of course, joining in with an impromptu rendition of the ‘griddy’ celebration.
The students were accompanied throughout their visit by the Foundation’s School Partnership Officer, Alex Howarth, who is based permanently at the school, in Blackley, to support students with their academic and extra-curricular work.
“We’ve brought a group of kids here today as a treat for the way in which they have gone that extra mile to develop themselves as people,” Alex said. “Many of them have been involved, or have aspirations to be involved, in a sport leadership programme and what better way to compliment that than seeing the very best leaders in action.
“They’ve seen how to deliver a session, how to make it fun but also competitive; they’ve heard about how the coaches here assess session outcomes and, importantly, how they create a safe environment for players.
“It’s been an incredible morning for them and I’d like to thank Wayne, Tom and, of course, Anthony Elanga, whose appearance at the end made it extra special.”
The session was one that was greatly enjoyed by our young people who explained how it would go on to support and motivate them in the future.
“It’s been such a cool morning, and really eye-opening,” said Sophia, one of the participants. “I do quite a lot of sport at school; I play in the sessions and I’m a Sport Leader too, so I feel like I’ve learned a lot today – I’ve got loads of new ideas of how I could change up my sessions.
“Seeing the training campus, the trophies and meeting the players have been my favourite parts,” student Noah, added. “It was great to be able to watch the players train, you can see how hard they work! Their attitude and application has really inspired me to continue to give my all at school and when I play sports.”