Female participants from Manchester United Foundation enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of gracing the Old Trafford turf at an adidas pitch day experience last month.
150 girls from across the Foundation’s partner primary, secondary and special educational needs schools, as well as those from our Street Reds sessions, were invited to take in the Theatre of Dreams in all its glory, with an exciting day of activities on offer.
Before they took to the pitch, the girls participated in innovative environment workshops delivered by adidas and the Foundation, educating the young people about topical issues in the sustainability space – including discussing adidas initiatives, Common Goal and Move for the Planet.
Setting the tone for the day and in true Old Trafford tradition, girls walked out of the players’ tunnel to the tune of the Stone Roses’ ‘This Is The One’ anthem, before getting on to the pitch to take part in small-sided matches and mini-games, with a central theme around this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Girls were split into different teams, each representing different nations who are participating in the Women’s World Cup, and all those who participated received a medal to mark their achievements as play came to a close.
“To have 150 girls on the pitch at Old Trafford is incredible,” said Hannah Mitchell, the Foundation’s female development co-ordinator.
“Getting out on the pitch at Old Trafford, replicating the Women’s World Cup, this experience is a dream come true for the girls. It's inspiring for them and shows that the growth of women’s football continues to go from strength to strength.”
Among the girls involved was partner school pupil, Mehek, from Great Academy Ashton, who was delighted to play at the home of the club she supports.
“We’ve been playing football and doing some activities in the suite,” Mehek said. “I’m a massive United fan myself, so to play at the Theatre of Dreams, it’s amazing because not many people else gets this opportunity.
“At the moment I’m doing my GCSEs. I’ve been studying and revising, revising, revising. This is a nice break to play football, I haven’t been able to play with my team while I’ve been off [studying], so playing football with girls of a similar ability, it was nice, and really fun.”
The experience was made possible to our young people through Manchester United partner adidas.
Chris Walsh, VP Brand, adidas North Europe added: “At adidas, we truly believe that, through sport, we have the power to change lives. With that philosophy, this is a perfect opportunity to live and breathe by that example.
“By giving young people a chance to feel how their lives can change through participation in sport is fantastic, and an opportunity I hope we can repeat again with such an important partner for the brand.”
Joy, a volunteer analyst with the Foundation at Manchester United’s Girls’ Academy, was key to the day’s activities, encouraging the younger girls in both the workshops and while out on the pitch. She was one of several volunteers on the day, along with Manchester United Women’s Under-21s player, Layla Proctor.
“This is the Theatre of Dreams, it’s where dreams come true,” said Joy. “I was telling some of the girls that if I had this opportunity, I would have absolutely loved it and chased my career as a footballer. It was amazing to see the girls’ faces when they got out on the pitch.”