Manchester United will introduce a new Emerging Talent Programme to increase engagement with local schools and grassroots clubs across Manchester and the North West.

The programme will be a bridge between the community and curriculum-based charitable work undertaken in over 50 local schools by Manchester United Foundation, and the club’s elite youth academy, which is fed by the club’s industry-leading scouting network and brings in the best talent from around the world.

The programme will deliver a range of projects in order to identify talented footballers across the region and support them further by offering them the opportunity to potentially attend a structured development programme at the club’s Emerging Talent Centre, based at The AON Training Centre.

Over the next three years, the club aims to engage with over 20,000 children and young people through a range of positive activities that will aim to increase their enjoyment of football and assist them with further opportunities to continue playing the game.

“Involving and engaging with a core of local talent is fundamental to everything we do at The Academy and in order to do this we are committed to our presence and activity within our local community in Manchester and beyond. The new Emerging Talent programme enables us to radically increase the number of schools, grassroots clubs and communities that we interact with across Manchester and the North West, allowing us to create a wider coaching network with better exposure to local footballing talent.

As well as identifying talent, the clubs aim is to give young people that are passionate about football an opportunity to have an experience of Manchester United.

We’re aware of our responsibility to enrich the local football community by sharing resources and knowledge.  Over the next three years, we aim to engage with over 20,000 children and young people (boys and girls) through a range of positive activities via schools and grassroots clubs. The aim is to increase their love of football and give them further opportunities to continue playing the game.”

(Nick Cox, Head of Academy for Manchester United)

The Emerging Talent Programme will be led by Jen Mildenhall as the Programme Manager and is staffed by a new, bespoke coaching and delivery staff. The club’s existing Football in the Community group will also operate as part of this new team.

The Emerging Talent Programme will operate under the overall Academy structure and will focus on three main areas, divided by age group;

Schools Activity

Over the next three years, every Primary School (approx. 900 in total) and Secondary/High School (approx. 400 in total) across Greater Manchester will be offered the opportunity to participate in a tournament or football festival event hosted by the Emerging Talent Department.  There will be a range of formats for different age groups, identified through the Foundation Phase  (Under 9’s – Under 11’s) and Youth Development Phase (Under 12’s – Under 14’s)

 Grassroots clubs and coaches

In parallel to schools activity, the Emerging Talent Programme will increase proactive engagement and strengthen relationships with grassroots clubs at every level from Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and Yorkshire, in order to support recruitment coverage and bridge the gap between grassroots and elite football.

This will see a minimum of 300 grassroots teams attending tournaments/festivals per year, while a minimum of 50 grassroots clubs will receive on-site visits per year.

To bring the wider coaching community together with the academy and create a wider ecosystem, at least 500 grassroots coaches will attend CPD workshops per year.

Emerging Talent Centre

Alongside activations based in schools grassroots clubs, United will run an Emerging Talent Centre for 44 weeks of the year, based at the AON Training Complex, which will offer a high-quality development programme for identified talented footballers.

This will complement the coaching and development work done within schools and clubs and will focus on under 9’s–under 14’s age groups, with a structured Games Programme embedded into the centre for all age groups. It will run alongside the main Elite Academy Programme and feed into this for the most talented players.


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