Ivybridge footballers put through paces at Manchester United’s training ground

Ivybridge Community College's Football Academy players experience a training session with the Man Un

Ivybridge Community College's Football Academy players experience a training session with the Man United Academy - Credit: Archant

Two-day training camp and tour gives College Academy players a taste of life as a Premiership player

Some of Devon’s most promising young footballers have been given a taste of life as a Premiership Footballer after experiencing two days at Manchester United’s Aon Training Complex and going behind the scenes at Old Trafford.

The trip, which was organised by Manchester United for 20 students from the Ivybridge Community College Football Academy, was designed to show the aspiring professionals what training at the highest level entails, to prepare them for the next stage in their development.

“It was an exceptional experience for everyone involved,” said Wayne Carlisle, Director of Football at Ivybridge Community College. “We have some fantastic talent coming through our programme right now, so it was a unique opportunity for them to experience some of the world’s best training facilities and to see just how tough it is to train and play at the top level.”

The two-day trip included the chance to train alongside United’s elite Academy Squad; visit the physical conditioning and medical facilities used by legends such as Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney; explore the first team dressing room; sit in the dugouts and the players’ lounge; and receive complimentary tickets to watch Man United play.

“It really was an access-all-areas experience for the boys,” added Wayne, “and something they will never forget. More importantly though, our students got the opportunity to train and benchmark themselves against players of their age, from the Manchester United Academy. It was very pleasing to see how well our boys worked and held their own in such a challenging environment.

“A lot of the training methods we saw are similar to the ones we use here at the Ivybridge Academy, with a strong focus on purposeful possession and skill-based games. We learned a great deal about the individual skill levels and physical condition required to function effectively at that level and have adjusted our programme to support our players more in these areas. On the whole, it is reassuring to know that we are training our young players in the same way as the world’s best.”

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Ivybridge Community College became the first school in the UK outside of Manchester to set up a relationship with the Manchester United Academy in October 2013 and the set-up is clearly paying dividends already. Every age group from the College has made it through to the final 32 in the country in the ESFA National Cups, with the U14 squad progressing through to the last eight of the Elite Football Schools Cup.

“Key Academy staff, Brian McClair, Les Kershaw, and Tony Whelan were all there for our visit and were very complimentary on the quality of play and the manner in which our players conducted themselves for the two days,” added Wayne. “Our link with Manchester United has really helped raise our players’ aspirations and the hope is now that, with their support, more of our homegrown players will be able to step up another gear and reach the top flights of professional football.”

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