United at Academy!
Thursday 28th November 2013 @ 13:06 by Max Wieland
Community Sports
IMPRESSED: Some of the students meet Manchester United coach Tony Strudwick.

IMPRESSED: Some of the students meet Manchester United coach Tony Strudwick.

One hundred students were wowed at an Ashton school last week as a Manchester United first team coach gave a special lecture about his role at the club.

Tony Strudwick, who is in charge of the Red Devils first team players fitness and conditioning, also put 15 hand-picked GCSE and A-Level students through their paces in the New Charter Academy gym.

Tony talked to PE GCSE students from years 9, 10 and 11 alongside BTEC and A-level students about his career to date before delving into his daily duties at one of the world’s biggest clubs, of which he joined in 2006.

He spoke passionately about the increase in members of staff at his department during the last seven years before reflecting on his experiences with some of the world’s greatest footballers – naming Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs as his two standout players during his time at the club.

As the Tameside youngsters listened in wonder at Tony’s career achievements with the Premiership Champions, they were also galvanised by his advice and down to earth anecdotes, such as his admission that he had to re-sit his A-levels so that he could study Sports Science at Loughborough University.

16-year-old David Whyatt (pictured top centre) who is studying PE A-level at NCA said: “Today’s been really important to us; it helps us keep track, because a lot of the students in the A-level PE group want a career in the fitness and sport industry. To have a professional come in kind of sets you a goal to get to his level.”

He added, “Tony came across just like a regular person; he talked about not getting the grades he wanted at A-level first time round and it shows it’s the people who are persistent and keep at it who will achieve their goals in the end.”

David, whose career ambition is to become a Royal Marine was delighted to be selected as one of 15 pupils to join the Sheffield-based coach in a workshop in the NCA fitness suite. The group are currently developing a strength and conditioning programme as part of their GCSE and A-level coursework and did not hesitate to pick the wits of their special guest.

After putting the students through their paces Tony told the Reporter: “Manchester United Foundation performs a great service for the club in the community and is always keen for us to get involved in work outside our daily duties, so it’s nice to come back out in to the community and put something back.

“It’s not just about going to Old Trafford and enjoying the day to day stuff, from a personal level it’s gratifying to come back to school and speak to these young kids who have got their whole future in front of them and try and give them a few little ideas about how they could progress.”

Neil Simpson, Head of Sport and Health at NCA also told us, “Today has been a great experience for the students to see the career paths that are available to them in terms of PE, sport, fitness and health.

“All the students Tony has met today will be doing fitness programmes as part of their course work, so it was interesting for them to speak to Tony and ask questions about designing training programmes, developing and sustaining fitness levels and to hear what he does at the elite level compared to at a school level.

“There has been a lot of excitement amongst the students about today’s visit, especially the United fans. This is a coach who deals with Wayne Rooney and Van Persie on a day-to-day basis, so there has been a high level of excitement about it and it’s been incredibly valuable to teachers and pupils alike.”

The three-year partnership between New Charter Academy and Manchester United Foundation is through the Hub of the Community programme which focuses on helping young people to develop major life skills such as leadership, team work and positive behaviour.

Foundation coach, Claire Mulvenna, who is based full-time at NCA, concludes that the Manchester United coach’s visit had had the perfect effect: “Tony’s visit has left a buzz around the staff and pupils throughout the schools PE department. His clear message of pursuing your aspirations to achieve your dream job has inspired the students to focus on their goals and work hard.”

INVOLVED: Tony Strudwick lectures students on his career to date.

INVOLVED: Tony Strudwick lectures students on his career to date.