A group of schoolchildren, who will be starting high school this week, were invited to the Aon Training Complex to take part in some educational activities with a twist, to get them ready for the transition from primary to secondary.
Little did they know they would be surprised by some of their favourite Manchester United first-team players, who joined in the games and gave advice about starting a new school, taking on new challenges, working hard and making new friends.
Chris Smalling, who will be joining a new team himself this week as he starts a loan period with Roma, can relate to the young students. “It’s just like when I joined United, I came from a smaller club to a bigger club,” he said. “You’ll meet other new people who are in the same position, so my advice is to just enjoy it, listen to your teachers; you’ll make friends for life and have a lot of fun.”
The children will be moving into year seven at ESSA Academy in Bolton and Middleton Technology School, two of 22 partner high schools of Manchester United Foundation, at which full-time Foundation coaches are based to deliver extra curricular activities.
To give the pupils a taster of what’s to come, the coaches put on some football activities but with an educational twist, incorporating maths, languages and geography.
International players Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo enjoyed getting involved with the challenges, telling the children about their school days and helping with the languages tasks where they had to identify phrases in French, Italian or Spanish.
“The truth is that school is something really important for every child,” said Argentinian goalkeeper Romero. “Most of our lives start here with learning values and education. Whatever people achieve in the future and in their life it begins at school and it starts with learning and studying.”
Midfielder Angel Gomes attended a former partner school of the Foundation whilst representing Manchester United throughout his education since the age of six. He recognises his studies in helping him with his career at this multi-cultural club: “When I was in school there was a mix of people from all over the world and for me it was always interesting; I enjoyed learning different languages. I learnt Spanish in school and that’s helped me at the club as there are a few players that speak Spanish so it’s easier for me to mingle in.”
The day culminated in the players signing autographs, posing for photos and handing out certificates and Manchester United goody bags to the children so they can start high school in style with all the essentials they need.