Ji-sung Park signs autographs for Korean youngsters on a Manchester United Soccer Schools programme at Carrington.

Click the pic to see more photos, or learn about MUSS's residential English and football camps

13/01/2012 10:23, Report by James Tuck
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Dream trip for Park's school

Budding players from Ji-sung Park’s football academy in Korea met their idol this week during a special trip to Manchester.

A group of 28 youngsters, from Park’s Suwon-based JSFC, are taking part in a two-week Manchester United Soccer Schools programme, partly organised by the winger himself.

The children, all between the ages of 10 and 12, are training at Carrington every morning with the club's Soccer Schools coaches, learning to play 'the United way', before spending the afternoon learning English.

After training on Wednesday, the group were thrilled to meet and take part in a Q&A session with Ji, while Nani and Ryan Giggs came to sign autographs and pose for photos.

Park said afterwards: "I’m very proud. I just hope they’ve enjoyed the experience and remember it forever. They love playing football and it’s great for them to come to here, see the players and train with the coaching staff.

"I saw that they were all smiling, which makes me happy. Maybe one of them will play for United in the future! They just have to keep working hard and enjoying the game."

The young players are watching United’s game against Bolton on Saturday and playing friendlies against youth teams from Stockport County and Oldham Athletic next week.

But it's not all about the football, with English lessons at Trafford College, a stone's throw away from Old Trafford, also on the agenda.

Park said: "When I arrived here I couldn’t speak English very well, but they’re learning at an early age so they’ll pick up the language more quickly.

"It gives them more opportunities to be able to speak English – whether in football or business. They can communicate around the world and that’ll be a big advantage."

Park’s academy, the coaching arm of his wider JS Foundation, was opened in 2009 and Patrice Evra joined him to launch the centre's training programmes the following summer. It already comprises around 900 'elite' and 'recreational' players, a mixture of whom made the trip to the UK.

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