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Letter from Old Trafford

11 November 2015

Last week I attended the Manchester United Soccer Schools World Skills final after being selected during the Manchester United Summer School Camp at NAIS Pudong last June-July. It was an experience I will never forget. It was great meeting other young footballers from all around the world such as USA, Japan, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, China and lots of European countries.

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The skills challenges were extremely fun and exciting but also nerve wracking and I felt under a lot of pressure. The challenges were based on your overall football ability: dribbling, juggling, short passing and lofted passes. They were also set with a time limit to see how well you could perform under pressure.

We also had a guided tour of the Old Trafford stadium and I met Denis Irwin, a Manchester United legend and also Captain of Ireland. We played some heading-the-ball games with him which were fun.

After all the hard work performing the skills challenges, I was able to sit down with friends and enjoy watching the professionals play at Old Trafford: Manchester United versus West Bromwich Albion. Before the match started, we were all able to play on the pitch and our names were announced and appeared around the ground, which was amazing.

We also got the chance to see an Academy game for U14s, Man Utd v West Brom, which was interesting as I could compare their level of play to mine and my football friends in Shanghai.

On the way home via Munich I happened to be sitting in the seat behind Bastian Schweinsteiger, current Captain of Germany and Man Utd player. He signed my match ticket as a memento and it was really exciting to see him.

Even though I didn’t manage to win I had the most amazing time ever and it’s an experience I will never forget.

By Matthew Ward, 8A