Unified by Football

Manchester Health Academy students have teamed up with students from specialist school Brentwood High School to take part in Unified Football , a 10-week training programme, culminating in a tournament at Manchester United’s iconic training ground, and aired on Match of the Day on Easter Sunday.

The programme is inspired by a simple idea; training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. In Unified Football, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices more exciting and fun for all.

The training period enabled students from both schools to develop ways of working together as a team and to build relationships between the two sets of students.  In the tournament, two teams were made up of a mix of students from both schools. One of our teams made it to the semi-finals, but was unfortunately knocked out when it went to penalties.

Teacher Miss Steers said “The students were a credit to the academy, with Corey even doing an interview for Match of the Day! Their opponent was intolerance. Only shoulder-to shoulder, as teammates together, could it be defeated. It was a fantastic opportunity and a very enjoyable experience.”

Unified Football is a Special Olympics GB campaign delivered in partnership with Youth Sport Trust, which joins people with and without learning disabilities on the same team.

The tournament was filmed for the Foundation’s annual Match of the Day community feature and was broadcast on Sunday 1st April at 7.25am on BBC1.  It was attended by BBC Reporter and former England Women’s Team player Sue Smith, England Cerebral Palsy football team captain Jack Rutter and members of the Manchester United youth teams including Angel Gomes, Luca Ercolani, George Tanner and Aidan Barlow.

The tournament concluded in a victory for the Co-op Academy Swinton and Oakwood Academy who beat The Oldham Academy North and Redwood School 2-0 in the final.

Manchester Health Academy is linked with Manchester United Foundation through its Partner Schools programme, which bases full time coaches in targeted areas to building lasting relationships and impact the lives of young people.

See more information  here.