Wilmslow Express - - NEWS -

HE Manch­ester United Foun­da­tion works in some of the most dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas across Greater Manch­ester and uses the pas­sion for Manch­ester United to ed­u­cate, mo­ti­vate and in­spire young peo­ple.

It de­liv­ers foot­ball coach­ing, skills train­ing, per­sonal devel­op­ment and life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, pro­vid­ing young peo­ple with op­por­tu­ni­ties to change their lives for the bet­ter.

In this, its first col­umn for the Manch­ester Weekly News, the group shares news of a visit from a United leg­end.

For­mer Manch­ester United and North­ern Ire­land mid­fielder Nor­man White­side was the guest of hon­our at Manch­ester United Foun­da­tion part­ner school, Manch­ester Health Academy, dur­ing the re­cent open­ing of a new 3G pitch fa­cil­ity at the Wythen­shawe school.

White­side, who has played in two world cups with North­ern Ire­land and twice won the FA Cup with Manch­ester United, rem­i­nisced about his own foot­balling ex­pe­ri­ences as a young­ster.

He said: “We used to just play in the street and had noth­ing like this.

“Even with the first astro turf pitches at Lu­ton and QPR, they used to be like con­crete with a green car­pet on top.

“Th­ese pitches nowa­days are phe­nom­e­nal with all the weather they can sus­tain – it’s the clos­est you’ll get to grass, although I don’t know about do­ing slide tack­les.

“Th­ese pitches are great for grass­roots devel­op­ment, we started that way but we didn’t have the fa­cil­i­ties.

“Apart from it be­ing used for the school, the com­mu­nity also benefits from the fa­cil­ity with pri­vate bookings, as the flood lights al­low you to play for longer dur­ing the evenings.

“The head­mas­ter says that out­side of school it’s al­most al­ways full, which has to be a good thing.”

Foun­da­tion coach Lee Cald­well, who is based at Manch­ester Health Academy, ex­plained how ben­e­fi­cial the pitch would be to the school.

He said: “The pitch pro­vides the school with an op­por­tu­nity to al­ways play foot­ball no mat­ter what the con­di­tions are like.

“The pupils can see it’s a first class fa­cil­ity and they don’t need boots, so are al­ways en­gaged play.

“The fact that the pitch is hired out to the lo­cal com­mu­nity and it can fi­nance it­self and fu­ture projects within the school is fan­tas­tic.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Manch­ester United Foun­da­tion, visit www.mu­foun­da­tion.org.

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