Imagine walking down the tunnel into the famous ‘Theatre of Dreams’ that is Old Trafford, following in the footsteps of some of the greatest players ever to don Manchester United’s red shirt.
Heroes of Manchester and legends of the game, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Roy Keane, made this same walk many times.
For one week in July four Cayman youngsters, Elijah Seymour, Logan Seymour, Brandyn Murray and Alex Hennings, making that walk became a reality as a reward for participating in the famed Manchester United Soccer School.
Apart from being welcomed into the stadium to rapturous applause from the nearly 250 parents and family members sitting in the stands and the official Old Trafford stadium announcer, the four Cayman youngsters along with their ‘school mates’ had the privilege of posing for photographs with the Champions League and Premiership trophies won by United last season. Definitely the highlight of an exciting week spent with the Manchester United ‘family’.
The journey began almost a week before when they youngsters entered the halls of Denstone College located near Uttoxeter in the English Midlands.
With posters of current Manchester United greats Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs adorning the walls of the reception area, the Caymanians made their way through the registration and orientation sessions before settling into their accommodations prior to their first practice.
Presented with full Manchester United training kits complete with a much-needed rain jacket – this is England after all – the Cayman boys could hardly contain their excitement as they realised that they were to be part of something very special over the next six days.
The Manchester United Soccer School was established to enhance the club’s dedication to the development of youth football.
That aim continues to be at the heart of the club’s future, whether part of the first team, academy or their coaching programmes around the United Kingdom and worldwide.
It has been part of the tradition of the club since the days of Sir Matt Busby and more recently Sir Alex Ferguson to encourage youngsters to play fast, attacking, exciting football and most of all enjoy doing so.
At every course a positive learning environment is created by combining old-fashioned values with the latest coaching techniques and methodology to allow each child to be challenged and gain success.
With the Soccer School’s positive learning environment model based on technical, mental, tactical, physical and social aspects, along with a skills challenge, young players experience living, training and playing like the youth players at Manchester United.
Elijah Seymour, nine, who plays for St. Ignatius’ primary football league team, said he enjoyed the experience.
‘It was great to meet kids from all over the world and to learn new football techniques. The coaches were great. It was amazing to actually see the Premiership and Champions League trophies and go to Old Trafford.’
Logan Seymour, 15, who plays for St. Ignatius’ Under-19s, agreed with his younger brother’s comments.
‘Manchester United’s camp was a great international football experience for me. Meeting people from all over the world and being exposed to such a high level of coaching and playing has given me a broader perspective of the quality of football outside of Cayman.’
Brandyn Murray, 14, plays for St. Ignatius’ U-14s. He talked about some of activities at the school.
‘It was a great experience for me. I learnt a lot more about football.
‘I particularly enjoyed the skills challenge when we participated in scrimmage games to get challenge points with the player obtaining the most points being invited to Old Trafford to participate in a world skills challenge before a Premiership game.’
Alex Hennings, 15, who also plays for St. Ignatius’ U-19 team, talked about seeing the famed Old Trafford.
‘I was impressed with the coaching and the quality of the training sessions. It gave me a good feel of what the life of a professional footballer is like and it was a dream come true to go to Old Trafford.’
Following the closing ceremonies that took place near to the famous Old Trafford turf, the Cayman youngsters presented School Director, Chris ‘OB’ O’Brien with a souvenir from the Cayman Islands, which was created by local artist Horacio Esteban.
The handcrafted souvenir, depicting a catboat in dry-dock, was well-received by the School’s Director and his coaching staff and he promised to make it part of the Manchester United Soccer School’s collection at Old Trafford.
Memories of this exciting camp will remain with the four Cayman boys forever. Maybe, one day, we’ll be watching one of them grace the legendary turf of Old Trafford as a player with Manchester United.
For further information contact Neil Murray at 925.8793 or e-mail [email protected]