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Manchester United academy manager inspires Morson-sponsored girls football team

  • Publish Date: Posted 8 days ago
  • Author: James Kenealey
Morson Group has long been a sponsor of Cadishead U9 Emeralds girls football team. With a new season approaching for the young players, the team were invited to visit Morson head office and took part in a charity penalty shootout with Morson employees to raise money to help towards their equipment and kits.

The team were also treated to a visit from Jennifer Mildenhall, Emerging Talent Programme Manager for Manchester United. Jennifer has forged a long career in youth football coaching, development and scouting. She spoke to the girls about her experiences in the game and offered inspirational insights into the skills required for, and developed within, a career in sport.

Watch the video below:

“My role is that I manage a team of staff to deliver schools tournaments and grassroots tournaments all across the Northwest. The main thing is for enjoyment as schools get to engage with Manchester United. But also, there's a pathway, if any boys or girls are talented enough footballers they can feed into our Academy or regional talent centre and hopefully go on to play elite football.”

When did you start playing football and how did your career progress?

Similarly to the Cadishead girls, I started playing football from the age of about seven or eight and then played up until I was about 14 when it became that time where you've got to forge a career. So that's when I got into coaching. For the past 18 years I've done a lot of community coaching similar to the girls here today, some grassroots football coaching and now I'm in quite privileged position where I work in the Boys Academy. So it's my job to hopefully find the Marcus Rashford of the future and follow their pathway into the first team, hopefully!

How does sport develop soft skills that are useful for other aspects of life?

Playing football, especially within a team environment like these girls, you make some really good friends you're working on your communication skills. There are lots of transferable skills that won't only help them now but will help them later in life. And I just think football is a great sport that anybody can get involved with and really enjoy. My advice is always to just keep enjoying it. Don't focus too much on being elite and I think you'll do pretty well.

The England women’s team have inspired a generation of young people into sport. Have you noticed this at grassroots level?

The Euros have been fantastic I think it's really shone spotlight on the women's game. I think people have seen just how good the standard is and how good the women are. I think that's fed down to grassroots football. As I said to the Cadishead girls, when I started playing football there weren't girls teams. A majority of girls around my age played for boys teams and played against boys and with the boys, whereas it's really nice now that there's enough girls playing that we can actually have girls teams. Whether they go into the elite game or they just enjoy playing grassroots, whatever the level they're getting a lot of fun and enjoyment for that game, which I think is important.

The Lionesses' success in the women's Euro championships brought allyship to the fore, and it's something that is vital if we are to continue to further equality. In this article, we focus specifically on gender equality and consider the powerful role allyship plays in shifting the dial on discrimination.