There’s an truism spoken by seasoned travellers that whatever far-flung corner of the globe you visit, it’s only a matter of time before you see someone wearing a certain Manchester football shirt. Now it’s true, that shirt is usually of the red variety, but the successes of recent years have inspired a new wave of Manchester City fans based about as far as you can get from the north west of England. That trend is certainly set to accelerate it Australia, following the news that City is launching its first ever football school Down Under.
Joining hands across the miles
Manchester City FC has formed a partnership with Melbourne’s Parade College to launch the initiative, and enrolment has already opened for the inaugural programme, which gets underway in January 2022. Parade is one of the oldest and most respected colleges in Melbourne, with a history that dates back 150 years. The new programme has a strong emphasis on promoting health, fitness and inclusion. It is also, however, a sign of football’s growing popularity among Australians, and especially the younger generations.
Football in Australia
A generation ago, football in Australia meant one thing – Aussie rules. It wasn’t so different to the situation in the USA, and we all know how huge MLS has become there now. Soccer, as it is known in Australia to differentiate it from other forms of the game, has undergone a somewhat different evolution down under, however.
One of the major drivers that has sparked interest in the game has been some of the incredible giant-killing achievements of Australia’s national team. The Socceroos have qualified for more World Cups than they’ve missed in recent years, and it’s made them a popular punt for sports bettors. Now Australians love a wager, whether it’s on cricket, rugby or the range of pokie-style casino games Australia is famous for. The Socceroos are national heroes who punch above their weight. But this is a nation of doers, not watchers, so it is no surprise that today’s youngsters are keen to get out there and play.
Training with the best
The Manchester City Football School is more than just a branding and promotion deal from across the miles. The club is taking its part in the partnership deadly seriously, and will be sending a coach over direct from Etihad Stadium as soon as travel restrictions permit, and certainly well in advance of the first training sessions next January. It will ensure the programme follows City’s approach and methodology, as the college continues to strive for “football and educational excellence,” according to Jorgina Busquets, City’s Managing Director for Football Education and Recreation.
Meanwhile, Andrew Kuppe, who was appointed College Principal in 2019, just can’t wait for 2022 to roll around and for the programme to get underway. He describes the special “football effect” of Manchester City, and feels it will be instrumental in bringing positive change, not just at his college but to communities across the world.