Positivity is the key behind Academy response to COVID-19


So what of the activities? There has been a bit of everything for the boys to get their teeth into, all with no obligation for the younger age groups. At the higher end, though, the physical training mirrors that of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s senior squad. “We’ve given the Under-18s some programmes to do at home, which are in line with the Under-23s and, more or less, like the first team,” explained Under-18s lead coach Neil Ryan. “It empowers them a little bit, to drive themselves to do that and give ownership of their work, which is not a bad thing for them. The Academy is offering fantastic support and the communication lines are strong.”

The 5k runs have proved popular across the board and there is a charitable approach to getting the lads out jogging and cycling. One of the challenges is replicating the number of miles (4,556) to Mumbai with each Academy player completing 26 miles over the course of a week. The Under-14s became the first United team ever to play a match in India earlier this year and it is hoped £1 can be raised for every mile covered to support the community out there. Donations are also being made to Ashton-on-Mersey, the school where the MANUSS project is hosted, and their bid to create PPE for frontline workers.

A breakfast club includes a work-out with Gabe Mellor, and yoga sessions have been put on for the Under-9s, with some of the staff joining in. Some of the youngsters have put together videos showing their skills and pretending to pass the ball on to the next colleague, or performed somersaults off trampolines before hitting a target.

Yet the mind is just as important as the body at times like this, something that was quickly recognised by the staff. Academy programme advisor Tony Whelan has helped create some ‘dead-hard’ quizzes based on United, football and general knowledge and the schoolboys have been taking part wearing fancy dress or football shirts. “It was a bit of fun interaction and great fun but I had to put everyone on mute for bit,” explained Eamon Mulvey, the head coach for the Foundation stage. “Everyone was wearing different daft hats and the kids seemed to enjoy it. It was really good to see the faces and how they’re dealing with the situation.”

Schoolwork remains fundamentally important for most of the boys and Ian Smithson has been helping to oversee the educational aspects. “They have regular courses that have just been moved online,” he explained. “We set them work on things and they continue on their school course anyway. With the MANUSS programme at Ashton-on-Mersey, we’re putting on tuition lessons again online in Maths, Science and English and it adds a bit of structure. We’ve had really good feedback from the parents on this.

“For the older players in the professional development phase, the Under-18s squad and above, including the Women’s first team, there has also been a good take-up in our short education courses. We’ve got them doing Spanish, football marketing, business entrepreneurship and financial trading, while one of the lads has followed up his French. They’re due to finish in a couple of weeks and we’ll give them a break in terms of what was set to be the off-season period anyway.”

It doesn’t stop there. Cookery classes and challenges have been popular, with Mulvey talking of one of the Under-9s being a budding Gordon Ramsay or Gino D’Acampo after putting on a demonstration of his burger-making. Around 40 boys sent in recipes – youth-team skipper Teden Mengi was proud of his protein pancakes and Spanish midfielder Arnau Puigmal, unsurprisingly perhaps, can make a mean paella.


Source link

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.