A recent OFSTED inspection confirmed this belief by awarding an ‘outstanding’ grade for the teaching and learning that takes place in a practical football-based environment at Premier League clubs across the country. We were delighted to welcome OFSTED inspectors to observe the work at United as part of the inspection.


So why am I sharing these thoughts?


I am starting to grow tired of listening to certain elements of the media focusing on a sensational narrative that academies are responsible for broken dreams and heartbreak. The perception that any child not making a debut is a failure couldn’t be further from the reality. Stories of 0.01 per cent of players making a debut only add to this incorrect narrative. I actually think the statistic is made up by the way and it is certainly not the case at Manchester United.


It’s time that someone stood up for the incredible work that is being delivered across the football pyramid. This is my attempt at doing so.


The opportunities on offer for young people at football clubs are greater than many understand. These false narratives are often spread by people who have failed to recognise the true power of sport and football.


This is my truth.


Over the last two decades I have witnessed this:


Sometimes, only very occasionally, young people (inadvertently) have a tough experience. In these instances there is always some additional expertise available to help youngsters get back on track.


Sometimes young people make debuts and have successful football careers.


However, the vast majority of participants enjoy a life-changing, life-enriching experience that changes their lives forever and for the better, regardless of what is achieved on the pitch. Given the chance, most kids would do it all over agai‌n if they could.

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