United We Play – Apollo Tyres & Man Utd promoting young football talent in India
Apollo Tyres has partnered with Manchester United F.C. for more than seven years, and an important aspect of this engagement has been the nurturing of young football talent. The latest programme has now been launched in India and involves the Manchester United U-18 team, which in May will visit the country for the first time.
The new programme, ‘United We Play’, was introduced in Mumbai by former Manchester United centre back and midfielder Ronny Johnsen along with Rajesh Dahiya, Apollo Tyres’ vice president of marketing, sales and service for the India, SAARC & Oceania) region. United We Play gives talented young players training by Manchester United Soccer School (MUSS) coaches, with the best performers going on to train with the U-18 team.
The programme will be held in two age categories, U-13 and U-16, in eight cities across India in the next two months. Around 3,000 young footballers expected to take part. Local coaches will initially work with participants before they get a chance to impress coaches from the Manchester United Soccer School (MUSS). During this stage of the programme, they will be taught some of the same skills and techniques imparted at Manchester United. The 32 best performers across the country, as selected by the MUSS coaches, will travel to Mumbai to participate in two training sessions with the Manchester United U-18 squad.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Rajesh Dahiya said: “We have been working towards development of football at the grassroot level in India, which helps us interact and engage with the community both at the rural and urban centres. Inviting the Manchester United’s U-18 team, which has been identifying and providing a steady stream of players to the United’s first team, to visit India, is a part of our continuous engagement with the Indian football fans.”
“Manchester United has a longstanding relationship with India, hosting five #ILOVEUNITED events there since 2016 as well as creating bespoke content on our club channels for our millions of Indian fans and followers,” added Sean Jefferson, Manchester United’s director of partnerships. “We have seen a massive increase in the popularity of football in India over the last few years. As a club we want to encourage this enthusiasm for the game by engaging with initiatives like Apollo Tyres’ ‘United We Play’ programme.”
Manchester United’s head of academy, Nick Cox, said: “The Under 18’s cultural visit to India is an important part of the squads training. It allows our youth players to experience what it is like to travel as a team to countries, they may have never visited before, meeting the club’s global fans and experiencing cultures and climates very different to their own.”
In addition to being the Global Tyre Partner of Manchester United F.C., in India the tyre maker is present in the Indian Super League (ISL) as principal sponsor of Chennaiyin F.C., and in the I-League, with its title sponsorship of Punjab F.C., while in Hungary, the company has an association with DVTK, the leading sports club in the country.