May 22nd, 2010
George Best Foundation v Manchester United Foundation
George Best, Manchester and Belfast will be forever inexorably linked.
It was with this in mind, coupled with the fact that the fans in Manchester supported George in life and still continue to do so in death with, not just their emotional, but financial support of the George Best Foundation, that I felt a meaningful and lasting link between the two cities was of paramount importance.
After a meeting with David Gill, Chief Executive at Man Utd, a meeting was set up with John Shiels , Chief Executive at the Manchester United Foundation. I explained the hopes of the George Best Foundation and from there the George Best Memorial Trophy evolved.
Two groups of eighteen teenagers aged 16-18 were selected from each city to compete for the beautiful Tyrone Crystal Trophy,which incidentally was the very last one to be cut just days before the factory sadly closed. The teenagers were drawn from the Midnight Street Soccer initiative in the Castlereagh Borough Council and the Manchester United Foundation Kickz programme.
Many of the teenagers come from socially difficult backgrounds and areas, so to be offered this unique opportunity is something which they will remember for many years to come.
The first leg was played on St Patrick’s Day at Manchester United’s state of the art training ground at Carrington. It really was a very skillful game which ended in a 1-1 draw, which makes the return leg all the more interesting. We always try to mark what would have been George’s birthday in a special way and this year will be no different, hence the return leg will be played on what would have been his 64th on 22nd May.
The Manchester group will arrive at the George Best Belfast City Airport after which they will be hosted at Stormont where George’s funeral service was held,for lunch and a private tour.
The teams and officials will arrive at the ground at 1330 for a 1430 kick off. After the game they will be hosted by Castlereagh Borough Council for a meal and the awards presentation.
Both UTV and MUTV have filmed the 1st leg and the 2nd will be filmed by UTV with the event being aired on UTV’s Thursday Live show on 27th May.
Both Manchester United Foundation and George Best Foundation work to a very similar strategy which is to give every young person the unique opportunity to learn and develop skills through the power of sport and in particular football. This is achieved through social inclusion projects and initiatives which also include drug and alcohol education.
The event on 22nd May will a perfect example to showcase what can be achieved with young people and we want as many people to come along on the day with their children to join in the fun and support the George Best Foundation.