In the past 10 years Manchester United Soccer Schools has travelled all over the world coaching football played the United way. But that isn’t at the expense of budding youngsters on the Reds' own doorstep.
Through the player development courses and club visits, Soccer Schools has travelled the length and breadth of the country. Now there are also hugely popular weekly courses being run a stone’s throw from Old Trafford.
Each Saturday morning, for six-week periods, approximately 80 young footballers of all abilities (aged 6-14 years) are being coached at Power League Trafford Soccer Dome, in the Trafford Park area of Manchester.
Wayne Watkins, the course manager, says the sessions are hugely popular. “We have coached all over the world – across Europe, in Asia, Africa and North America – but we’ve not forgotten about our roots,” he says.
“It’s fantastic to coach local kids and the courses have been greatly received. Not only are they well priced, but the enthusiasm of the kids is fantastic to see. The courses start at 9am but we have excited kids arriving at 8am. They can’t wait to get started, which is great because the more you enjoy playing football the more you’ll learn.”
Courses follow the Manchester United Development Model – which concentrates on five areas: physical, tactical, technical, mental and social aspects of the game. All of which is coached in a positive learning environment.
At Power League Trafford the youngsters are split into five groups (by age) and work through various areas of the game – all sessions mirroring those coached at United's Academy for elite young players, ending with small-sided matches.
While the majority of youngsters taking part are from the North West of England, one youngster, Bailey Wright (7) from Lincoln, makes a four-hour round trip with his family to Manchester every Saturday morning.
Bailey’s father, Dean, believes the long journeys are worth it. “We come from a long line of United fans – Bailey loves the club, and I do, just like my dad and granddad. My lad has been on the holiday courses before and we were really impressed by the level of coaching,” says Dean. “So when we heard about these courses here in Manchester, we just had to attend.”
The popularity of the courses is growing