Princess Anne handed Premier League kings Manchester City the royal seal of approval with a visit to the club’s City in the Community foundation (CITC) today.
HRH The Princess Royal spent time meeting participants and seeing first-hand how the club is empowering lives through football across Manchester through the likes of gang awareness initiatives and football projects for girls, disabled young people and seniors.
The visit to The Etihad Campus was the first since The Queen attended the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Mike Green, Head of City in the Community, said: “Today has been such a fantastic experience!
“A visit from The Princess Royal has been a real privilege and will leave lasting memories with our participants and staff.
“Empowering lives and creating opportunities through football is the essence of why we exist which is why we decided to showcase a selection of the programmes we currently deliver in Manchester. We take great pride in placing our community at the heart of club.”
The Princess was welcomed to The Etihad by Conrad Prendergast, 22, a former CITC apprentice turned full-time community coach.
One of the people the foundation has helped turn their life around, former Private Mike Swindells, 27, from Wythenshawe, helped highlight the club’s disability programmes to The Princess.
Mike was seriously injured after he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on a routine patrol in Helmand province.
He has since become an integral part of the club’s ‘One City’ disability project, which has helped more than 8,000 disabled people get involved in sport over the past three years.
The Princess observed the Foundation’s powerchair football initiative, where young disabled people can access football in a safe and positive environment.
Mike said: “Getting involved with City in the Community has had an immense impact on my life.
“I’m now the captain of the disabled team and help mentor new participants come to terms with their own disability.
“It has made me realise that yes, I may be disabled, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do all of the things I loved doing before.
“The opportunity to meet a member of the Royal Family is something that only happens once in a lifetime and it is a great honour for me.”
The Princess also met Leon McLeod, whose life has been transformed since taking part in one of the Club’s mental health projects ‘Imagine Your Goals’.
Leon explained how City in the Community has had a positive effect on his life and has since taken on a part-time role within the foundation.
‘Imagine Your Goals’ aims to improve social inclusion and well-being for people with mental health problems as well as tackling mental health stigma in a football-related environment.
In addition, Manchester City Women’s defender Emma Lipman had the opportunity to speak to the Princess about the club’s ambition to increase opportunities for women and girls, while observing a football tournament for 11-13 year-olds.
The Princess then watched a lesson of walking football – a programme the club has recently introduced to encourage senior players get back into the game.
Find out more about City in the Community here
Image courtesy of Guts Gaming and inset courtesy of LeedsMetUni via YouTube with thanks