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Mayor of Greater Manchester joins United legend Irwin to unveil school sports site

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, was recently on-hand to officially open a brand new sports pavilion at Dean Trust Ardwick School, joined on the day by former Manchester United FC defender Denis Irwin. 

The new pavilion, funded by a grant of £676,098 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, joined an existing all-weather pitch at the school, creating a stunning grassroots sports hub for the local community.     

Burnham, former Secretary of State for Health, was delighted by the investment, saying: “Grassroots sport is so important to our area, and can have a particularly positive impact on young people. The school’s new sports pavilion, and their other excellent facilities, will be of real benefit to its students and all other users.”

The two special guests wasted no time in showing off their skills to the school's pupils on the day, taking part in a special penalty shoot-out. Amongst the fun and games, seven-time Premier League champion Irwin had some advice for aspiring young players:

“The facilities we’ve got here are unbelievable in Ardwick, so you’ve got no excuse to train and practice. All you need is a football, so go out there and practice skills yourself.”

To see our video of the event, click the here. For our Three Penalty Challenge with Andy and Denis, featuring some stunning strikes, click the large headline image at the top of this story. To check out the photo album from the event, click the two smaller images at the top of the piece, and for our exclusive Q&As with both Andy and Denis, click the relevant thumbnails below. 
Aspiring grassroots footballers from two underrepresented groups will soon have the opportunity to play in more teams thanks to the Grow the Game programme, a £1.5m investment by The FA. 

Grow the Game, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and first launched back in 2010, offers grants to grassroots football clubs that wish to create new teams. This year, applications are being encouraged from clubs who want to start:

• Women and girls teams
• Disability teams

Danielle Carter, England and Arsenal Women’s striker, backed the scheme: “As a footballer, one of the most rewarding things is seeing young supporters at the game and hoping that they too take up football after watching England play. It’s great that Grow the Game will mean that more girls teams will be created and give more people the chance to play and enjoy football.”

Brandon Coleman, England Blind footballer, said: “By recognising areas of the game where playing opportunities are really limited, Grow the Game plays a big part in making sure that football in England is open and accessible For All.”

The application window for Grow the Game applications is now open and closes on Thursday 29 March. Clubs seeking more information on the programme should contact their local County FA or visit the Football Foundation website

High quality football kit and equipment is available to primary schools across the country, thanks to the return of the Premier League Primary Stars Kit and Equipment Scheme for 2018. 

Run in partnership with Nike, the Kit and Equipment scheme enables schools that are already signed up to to apply for free football strips and equipment. This gives school kids access to new, Premier League quality football kit, encouraging them to get involved in sport, whilst also giving teachers access to a host of classroom resources.

The Premier League Primary Stars programme is a national curriculum-linked education initiative, designed to inspire children to learn, engage and get active through the power of football.

This year’s application window will run from Monday 19 February to Friday 6 April. Successful applicants will receive their kit/equipment from September 2018.

For details of how to apply for the kit and equipment, and how to access the other exciting Premier League Primary Stars resources, visit

43 grassroots football sites across England have been named as facilities set to pilot an innovative initiative as part of The FA’s flagship behavioural campaign, Respect.

Players, coaches, officials and spectators at the sites will be exposed a greater level of Respect messaging throughout their time at the facility, encouraging them to evaluate their behaviours. If the pilot scheme proves successful in improving behaviour, similar Respect messaging could be installed at every new, Football Foundation facility, with a view to installing at existing sites also. 

Nathan French, The FA’s National Respect Project Manager, said: Through the support of these sites and the grassroots community up and down the country, we are continuing to work towards a more inclusive, greater grassroots game for all.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers FC legend Steve Bull MBE helped us to open two of our brand new grassroots football facilities last year. With over 300 goals to his name across an illustrious 15-year career, we caught up with the former forward to chat about his favourite football memories.

Q: What was your most memorable goal?
A: I think it has to be my debut for England, against Scotland. Going to Hampden Park in-front of 86,000 people, and then you pop up and score, I just couldn't believe it! But there were many for Wolves as well, I just loved scoring goals weekin week out. 

Q: Which clubs did you turn down in order to stay at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC?
A: I had four chances to leave Wolves that I knew of. There was Torino FC in Italy, Newcastle FC, Coventry FC and Celtic FC.  I was happy at Wolves though, it was a traditional club with a great ground and hard-working players and fans.

Q: What was it like to represent England at Italia ’90?
A: Oh it was scary. I was in the second division then, and it was very, very daunting for me. We had the likes of Lineker, Beardsley, Gascoigne, Waddle, Shilton and then you've got Bull! Sir Bobby Robson took me there as a wildcard and played me a few times. We were very unlucky not to win the tournament. 

Q: What are your memories of Sir Bobby Robson?
A: He was absolutely brilliant! He and Don Howe as a pair were superb. Don did all the tactics and Sir Bobby did all the man managing. He could put his arm round you and be a very sensitive man, or he could kick up the backside, so he had quite a few qualities in him that got that England side right up there.

Q: Which player, past or present, would you have liked to play with most?
A: I think my all-time favourite player was Zinedine Zidane. He was brilliant! Overall, his football ability, his technique and his skill were absolutely unbelievable, so if I could have played alongside him, that would have been amazing.
With seven-time Premier League winner Denis Irwin recently attending the opening of our new sports pavilion at Dean Trust Ardwick School, we look back at some of the other league champions who have helped us to open our facilities throughout the years. 
Firstly, it's Irwin's former Manchester United FC teammate Paul Scholes. Paul, who won the league title an incredible 11 times during his illustrious career, pitched in to help us open our new grassroots sports facility at Crompton House C of E School, Manchester, in 2015. 
Next, it's Foundation Ambassador Graeme Le Saux. A Premier League Champion with Blackburn Rovers FC in the 1994/95 season, Graeme has helped us open many community sports hubs over the years, including this one in Hounslow back in 2008.
Up next is three-time Champion Joe Cole. The former England midfielder, whose titles all came during his seven-year spell with Chelsea FC, officially unveiled Barking and Dagenham's first-ever community all-weather football pitch at Robert Clack School in May 2014.
Next is Joe Hart. The England international goalkeeper, who has two Premier League titles to his name, including one secured memorably in the last minute of the 2011/12 season, lent us a hand as we opened a state-of-the-art changing pavilion for AFC Urmston in October of 2011.  
Finally, and perhaps most memorably, it's 2015/16 Champion Christian Fuchs. The Leicester City full-back, who formed an integral part to the Foxes 5000/1 title victory, celebrated the achievement by helping us to open Judgemeadow Community College's new all-weather pitch.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council's changing pavilion was overhauled thanks to a grant of £98,791 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The refurbished facility, which will service the six adjoining pitches on-site, comprises two team changing rooms, an officials' changing room, a medical room, hospitality areas and storage facilities. The new pavilion was officially opened for Lancashire's grassroots sportsmen and women earlier this month.  
Here are some jobs currently open for applications within the world of sport:

Account and Support Manager – Upshot
Academy Football Scientist – Rochdale AFC

Community Coach – Reading FC Community Trust
Academy Goalkeeping Coach – Birmingham City FC
Inclusion Advisory Group Member – Derbyshire FA
Transfer announcement videos took hold throughout January. Following Alexis Sanchez's move to Manchester United FC, Motherwell FC produced this amazing announcement video for new signing Pete Hartley!   
Image: Motherwell FC
Aston Villa FC then tried their luck with their announcement of loan signing Lewis Grabban from AFC Bournemouth. We're somewhat on the fence about this one.    
Image: Aston Villa FC
Soccer AM's Jimmy Bullard rolled back the years in a recent FIFA-style challenge video against Derby County FC's Johnny Russell and Tom Lawrence. Class is permanent!    
Image: Sky
These images are all licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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Top Corner e-newsletter - February 2018
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