09/07/2010 11:32, Report by Steve Bartram
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Reds practice crossing

Vision, awareness, anticipation, control. Key components of a footballer's make-up, but also skills inherent to the welfare of youngsters.

Across the course of this week, children in Manchester have been taught the parallels between football and road safety in a unique link-up between the Manchester United Foundation, Kumho Tyres and Greater Manchester Police. shadowed Darren Fletcher and Wes Brown as the duo helped educate pupils at Irlam Primary School about the 'Play Safer' scheme, which encourages youngsters to relate the skills of footballers to their own wellbeing on and around roads. As well as helping put the children through their paces in outdoor activities, the pair also faced a taxing question and answer session from all 250 pupils in the school canteen.

Having survived searingly succinct questions like 'how good are you?' from the floor, Wes ended the session by admitting that if he wasn't famous, he'd probably 'be cleaning Fletch's windows', while Darren was subjected to a fierce barrage of high-fives from the delightfully exuberant pupils.

Despite the light-hearted nature of their involvement, however, both players - parents themselves - were keen to stress the gravity of the scheme's message. "It's important to be speaking to the kids about the awareness of road safety," Wes said.

"It definitely does appeal to them. It's the same for us when we're out on the pitch. We have to be aware of what's around us - where the ball is, where other players are - so if we can get that into the kids in a fun way for their road safety then it's probably the best way of doing it. They're definitely having fun and naturally it'll just come to them."

"I think it's a great message, the fact you can mix the football with the road safety," added Darren. "I know as a kid you can switch off a little bit so it's good they can link it to professional football by using awareness and vision while crossing the road. I think it will help the kids drum home how important it is.

"Being a father myself I've realised how important these things are, and it's important to make your kids aware of road safety, because there are so many accidents every year. Hopefully the fact that Manchester United are raising awareness can only help to hammer the message home."

Sir Bobby

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