The second season of United We Play, a grassroots development initiative of Apollo Tyres and Manchester United concluded with four footballers chosen as winners from over 5000 participants - Chennai’s R. S. Preyarhanjan, Federick Kurbah from Meghalaya, Chandigarh’s Ronald Singh and Kunal Yeole from Pune.
The program was conducted across 19 markets in India, in a hybrid format comprising 10 virtual workshops and Masterclasses across 12 markets and the four winners were chosen in the presence of Man United legends, Mikael Silvestre, Wes Brown, Ronny Johnsen, Peter Schmeichel, Nemanja Vidic, Quinton Fortune and Louis Saha.
“In any sport, you got to start as early as you can and I am glad these kids are getting the platform. Of course, practice is the main thing, you got to do it as much as you can. Hopefully one of these days, we will see one of these boys play in the Premier League and for Manchester United, said Brown.
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The winners will get an opportunity to visit Old Trafford to participate in exciting activities like a matchday experience, training sessions with Manchester United Soccer School coaches, and legend interactions.
Football culture in India
Despite its growing popularity, India has not made any major breakthroughs in the sport on a global stage.
“I don’t think football is lagging in India but there needs to be more awareness and education about it. The process needs to start somewhere. It's great to see these kids get a chance to improve their game and move the sport forward. Maybe we will see these kids at the World Cup someday but the consistency needs to be there,” said Schmeichel.
Rolling back the years
The Manchester United legend concluded the day by turning back the clock with a friendly 20-minute match against Debjit Majumder, Edwin Vanspaulm and Ninthoi of the Indian Super League club (ISL) Chennaiyin FC, and Adil Khan from Hyderabad FC. The match ended 1-1 with Ronny Jonsen and Adil Khan scoring for their respective teams.
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