'Exciting' Friends of the Academy scheme begins

Wednesday 18 May 2022 13:42

Manchester United’s new ‘Friends of the Academy’ initiative began in earnest a fortnight ago with a webinar described as “exciting and refreshing” by one of the many local grassroots coaches in attendance.

The scheme is designed to share Academy resources and knowledge with coaches, schools, junior clubs and young players across the north west. The opportunity provides a unique chance for local clubs and schools to directly engage with Manchester United.

Coaches, of any level, are invited to register here to access a range of fantastic development opportunities, including coaching clinics, guest-speaker events and access to accredited FA CPD hours.

Grassroots clubs and schools will also be able to share resources and knowledge on player development and, ultimately, enhance their relationship with the Academy and other junior football clubs.

More than 350 local youth football coaches have signed up for the initiative and many of those coaches virtually attended the scheme’s first webinar, in which Nick Cox, head of Academy, delivered a detailed introduction to the Academy and the programme that young players follow at United.

Cox explains the values of the United Academy.

Nick was joined by Zoe Flanagan (Emerging Talent coach) and Jennifer Mildenhall (Emerging Talent programme manager), with the three of them answering questions and offering tips to developing coaches.

Luke Irlam, Under-9s lead coach at AFC Urmston Meadowside, said: “What a pleasure it was to attend the inaugural ‘Friends of the Academy’ event which was brilliantly presented by Nick Cox, Zoe Flanagan and Jennifer Mildenhall. 

“It’s such an exciting and refreshing initiative from one of the world’s biggest football clubs; proving that grassroots football is alive and playing an integral role in the future of the elite game. It’s an honour to be part of it.”

Cox outlined the aims of the scheme to attendees, explaining that, at the heart of things, is a commitment to helping the community: “Sir Matt Busby was very clear that the purpose of this football club was that the factory workers and rail workers could come and be entertained on their Saturday afternoon off, that we served our community.”

He also explained that the initiative will prove an important point of reference to Academy staff, in which local coaches can give feedback and communicate on how the Academy’s scouting and coaching is affecting them. More webinars and events will be held soon for those signed up, many of whom were in attendance at the FA Youth Cup final a week later.

Due to popular demand, the first session will be re-run for those who missed out. This next webinar with Nick is scheduled to take place on Monday 11 July (18:00 BST).