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Friday 29 November 2013

Man Utd goalkeepers welcome new Foundation project

MU Foundation launches Street Reds project in Partington and goalkeepers welcome new staff

Anders Lindegaards meets the coaches

"Sometimes you don’t realise there is a path there for you and you think you can’t reach the top, so it’s always good to see that people in your area can get that high, and you can yourself. It gives people motivation and shows it’s not always doom and gloom."

Saying these words was 18-year-old SImon Holt, who had been a volunteer for the Manchester United Foundation in Partington, close to the club's training complex.

Holt was one of the volunteers whose work has been rewarded by becoming employees for the Foundation at its latest Street Reds project in Partington. As a bonus Holt and four other new employees who will run the scheme also got the chance to meet goalkeepers Anders Lindegaard and Sam Johnstone.

“This project helps the kids to stay out of trouble and creates social bonds; that’s why football is so beautiful"
Anders Lindegaard

Street Reds aims to engage young people in underprivileged areas in and around Manchester by delivering football coaching and a range of alternative activity sessions, at times when they could otherwise become involved in anti-social behaviour. In partnership with the Premier League Kicks programme, Your Housing Group and Trafford Housing, Street Reds will run on Friday evenings, 5-8pm at Partington Sports Village.

Four members of the new team had been volunteering in their local area for more than a year through the Foundation. Holt, Jordon Gee (18) and Wes Fagin (33) are all from the area and had volunteered at Broadoak High School, one of the Foundation’s partner schools.  Joab Westwood, 22, from Trafford, has also given up his free time to work on the Foundation’s existing Street Reds sessions in Old Trafford and Stretford. Dean Elull will act as head coach and previously worked at Arsenal’s Premier League Kicks programme

To reward the Street Reds staff for their service, Lindegaard and Johnstone welcomed them to United's Aon Training Complex in Carrington, which is just a mile from where the community cohesion project will be based.

“Projects like this are so important for engaging with kids in a difficult community, where football, as the beautiful game it is, can really contribute to developing them and getting kids on the right path in life," Lindegaard said. “It helps them to stay out of trouble and creates social bonds; that’s why football is so beautiful. It must also be good to come with the United badge. I can imagine that is a great motivator to encourage young people to attend.”

Encouraging participants to volunteer and gain qualifications is a core practice across the Foundation’s existing projects in Stretford, Old Trafford, Salford, Whalley Range, Burnage and Wythenshawe; and Partington is the latest area to benefit..

“I started by doing work experience with the Foundation within Broadoak High School and I continued to volunteer after that," Gee said. "I received so much from Manchester United Foundation, so I’d like to give that back to the community that I live in because it is really needed there.

"It’s had a massive effect on the community already. My sister attended and the confidence she gained through football just from one or two sessions was incredible.  I can’t imagine what it can do over so many weeks.”

The proximity of the project to the United training ground and the association with the club will act as inspiration for the local youngsters, believes Dawn Bracegirdle, the Foundation's cohesion manager.

"Youth unemployment is a real issue, so now more than ever, it is important for us to support them to develop the skills and qualifications that will hopefully lead them to finding a job they enjoy," she said. "Some of our new coaches have gained those tools through our volunteering programme and we are delighted to now be in a position to offer them paid work.”

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Key Points

  • Manchester United Foundation launches Street Reds project in Partington
  • New employees invited to meet goalkeepers Anders Lindegaard and Sam Johnstone
  • Project aims to engage young people in underprivileged areas with football coaching and activity sessions