Three days before Manchester United FC's UEFA Champions League showdown with FC Barcelona at Wembley, Manchester was one of three English cities with teams that have won Europe's premier club prize to host UEFA Grassroots Day events arranged by the Football Association.
The Manchester event, held at Old Trafford Sports Barn, doubled up as one of the weekly sports recreation sessions organised by coaching group Tuf*c – which helps young people aged 16 and over from disadvantaged backgrounds, by combining football with workshops on getting into employment.
Old Trafford Sports Barn and Tuf*c manager, Mike McKenzie, said: "The Wednesday session uses football as a vehicle to provide discipline, and life and social skills vital for young people to do well in the workplace. The session was a perfect occasion for UEFA's grassroots scheme." Tuf*c aims to provide positive role models and peer mentoring for youngsters.
The UEFA Grassroots Day session was based around football skills and tactical games. The ultimate priority, though, remains to get participants into education or full-time employment, with Tuf*c identifying youngsters with the potential to coach, not only football, but other sports and activities. Some already play for local football sides.
Andy Hilton, a local football development officer, said: "This session was chosen for UEFA Grassroots Day as it fits perfectly with the philosophy of the day and the power of football on the community. The event has been well attended by young people taking part in the sport, it provides a good workout and the participants enjoy the session, not just today but week in week out."
Elsewhere, in Nottingham, home to two-time European Champion Clubs' Cup winners Nottingham Forest FC, the East Midlands Powerchair Football Parallel Games were played under the UEFA Grassroots Day banner. In Birmingham, meanwhile, the city of 1982 champions Aston Villa FC, a UEFA Champions League style competition involving 120 local schoolchildren was staged. In total, 100 grassroots activities took place across England.
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