Saturday 26 January 2013
Children at a local project run by the Manchester United Foundation got a pleasant surprise last week when United and England forward Danny Welbeck dropped in for a visit.
The Foundation’s Street Reds project provides free football for young people from the Ordsall estate and the surrounding areas of Salford. The project is assisted with funding from the Premier League's Kickz programme and by offering football or alternative activities for 48 weeks of the year in areas that have been highlighted as trouble hotspots it looks to provide positive pathways for young people who are at risk of becoming involved in crime and anti-social behaviour.
"Any single kid could make a wrong turn in their life but this project could get you back on your feet"
Welbeck met and greeted the youngsters at Ordsall and answered questions about his career at Old Trafford, including what a team talk from Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager, is like.
“It’s a good occasion for the young kids on this estate and around Manchester, where we do these community sessions,” said Welbeck, who was born in Longsight, Manchester. "It gives them the opportunity to get off the streets, play a bit of football and to do something that they love.
“I can definitely relate to some of the kids here. Any single kid could make a wrong turn in their life but this project could get you back on your feet. It’s beneficial not just for the young kids but the whole neighbourhood as well."
The project was grateful for his visit. “The kids were all buzzing after Danny’s visit,” said Chris Noble, head coach at the Ordsall project, which reaches more than 1,000 young people a year and has proven to have reduced crime and anti-social behaviour while it is running.
“It’s a real inspiration for the kids; it gives them something to aspire to that a local lad, coming from the same background as them, can play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
Paul Morris, a local parent whose son attends the project, described the benefits that Street Reds has had for Ordsall.
“My son Paul has been coming here from day one,” he said. “It is brilliant for the kids from the estate round here because there’s not a lot for them to do. If there’s nothing for them to do then they go out and get involved in crime.
“That’s what is good about United getting involved. Look at all the kids here, they are not bad, there are some good kids and they should be given opportunities.”
Street Reds has inspired Morris to set up a club for children from the local estate and the team has been a success.
“From this project, we started our own football team, Ordsall Juniors, for the kids from the estate,” he said. “We’ve taken 19 kids off the street and given them something positive to do with their time. This is our third season and all the players still come down here twice a week. It’s brilliant, they all love football round here.”
More information about the Manchester United Foundation can be found here