United star joins Universe columnist for kick-off of all-weather pitch
A Universe columnist and Manchester United legend have teamed up to open a new state-of-the-art football pitch in the heart of Manchester.
Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, and legendary United defender Denis Irwin, joined the president of the Football Foundation, the Rt Hon. Lord Pendry, to officially open Manchester Health Academy’s new all-weather pitch.
The installation of the third generation artificial grass floodlit pitch was made possible by a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.
A partner school of Manchester United Foundation, the Academy currently has six of its students signed to professional clubs’ academies, including: Everton FC; Burnley FC; Oldham FC and Sheffield Wednesday FC.
A Manchester United Foundation officer is based permanently in the Academy and will deliver a range of curriculum and community-focused sports activities from the new pitch. These include girls’ development, leadership courses and Street Reds evening football sessions, which aim to give young people opportunities within the game.
Manchester United Foundation also rewards students who have been nominated by their teachers for good progress with free match tickets. More broadly, the charity works alongside the Academy’s lead sponsor, the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, to promote healthy lifestyles at the school.
Irwin, a former pupil of Christ the King Catholic College, Cork, who won 20 major honours during his 12-year stay with United, said: “Unveiling this new pitch was a pleasure for me, especially seeing so many youngsters out enjoying their football. It’s a wonderful facility and will no doubt become a magnet for people to visit and enjoy playing sport at. Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England.
“It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level.”
The Rt Hon. Lord Pendry, the president of the Football Foundation who formerly served as an MP in the local area for over 30 years, said he was honoured to be invited to open the new pitch.
“It was a pleasure to be joined by the inspirational Denis Irwin, and local MP Mike Kane. Through investment from the Premier League, the FA and the Government, through Sport England, the Football Foundation works hard to improve the provision of grassroots sport facilities across the country. This is an excellent example of their work, and I am delighted to see it in use already.”
Mike Kane said: “This is a fantastic new facility, and I am honoured to have been asked to help unveil it. It is evident that the all-weather pitch will be hugely beneficial to the school’s pupils and the local community, offering a way to get active and have fun. It was also great to have Denis Irwin here, helping to inspire the students.”
Picture: Mr Irwin (centre) joined Lord Pendry (centre left) and Mr Kane (second from left) to unveil the new all-weather pitch.Tags: Burnley, Denis Irwin, Everton, Lord Pendry, Manchester, Manchester United, Mike Kane, Oldham, Sheffield Wednesday