United After Tsunami

News & Views Sports - March 25th, 2013

Manchester United are set to run a five day football school for children in the tsunami-hit region of Tohoku, starting this Tuesday March 26.

Around 100 youngsters from three disaster-struck prefectures will be given the chance to train with top level coaches from the club, including legendary striker, Andrew Cole, the second highest scorer in Premier League history.

The former England international, who visited schools in the area last month, is relishing the chance to go back there and work with the kids again.

“Seeing the smiles on their faces as they took penalties, it was a real joy,” Cole told reporters in Tokyo last week.

“Their attitude was fantastic and there was a real warmth to the way they embraced me. It was an honour to be part of and I am really looking forward to coming back here on March 26 to help them play football the Man Utd way.”

The football clinics are being sponsored by Kagome as part of their Re:Generation Challenge, an initiative with a focus on healthy living. The food and beverage maker is planning to work with the Premier League leaders on a number of projects over the next couple of years, including more soccer schools. The Red Devils’ Asia Pacific Director Jamie Reigle believes it is the start of what should be a very fruitful relationship:

“This is a combination of two great companies,” says Reigle. “Man Utd, a special brand that transcends football and Kagome, a soft drink maker that is making a considerate effort to improve the lives of people in Japan. This is going to be a long-term partnership and the Re:Generation Challenge is a very important part of that partnership.”

In addition to the football schools, Kagome will be also be sponsoring the game between Yokohama Marinos and Manchester United at the Nissan Stadium on July 23.

For United, the match will mean a return to the stadium where they won the Club World Cup in 2008. It is also a game that could see current golden-boy of Japanese football, Shinji Kagawa, line-up against the country’s former star man, Shunsuke Nakamura.

by Matthew Hernon