Bringing home success. Ardwick FC amazes The Apprentice Academy with 5 trophies in one season!

Football is important to Manchester, and no matter which side of the city you are on, we are a town united by a love of the beautiful game. And yet our definitions for success might change depending on which side we support. For some it’s winning the premiership, for others in Greater Manchester it’s staying in the premiership, for others it’s all about the business of football. But what is it for Manchester? Well it has been estimated that football provides Greater Manchester with the equivalent economic impact of an Olympic and Paralympic Games every four seasons!

‘Analysing the value of football to Greater Manchester’ found that football contributed around £330 million in gross value added (GVA) to Greater Manchester’s economy. But this talk concerns the BIG teams, and talks only about BIG money, but what about the grass roots talent, those local community teams that supply some of the home grown talents to local Manchester teams? Those local teams, working with young people that align with The Apprentice Academy’s values those volunteers who go the extra mile, that make a difference and defines success on different terms. Those people like Ebou Jarra (46) and Seedy Njie (32) who helped start Ardwick FC, sponsored by The Apprentice Academy, who now have brought home 5 trophies in one season!

Ardwick football club is a community based football club that gives quality opportunity and development to young men in the local area, it  started in 2010 as there was no football club in the local area and kids were asking football enthusiast, Ebou Jarra for somewhere to play. After moving to Nickenson Road, at Manchester College, within two seasons the teams they managed had grown from 1 to 6 with a variety of different age groups. All brought

As Ebou Jarra says

“A successful season to us is having all the teams and young people completing the season, with no one dropping out as they don’t have the money to complete the season. It’s having a young person, coming up to me and saying Ebou thanks for putting me in the team. This is more about success and I am thankful for The Apprentice Academy who helped with one of the toughest things, getting the money together to help these kids.”  

But what also helps motivate the volunteers for Ardwick FC, who are unpaid and work every weekend, is each other and the feeling they get from coming together as a team and the sacrifices the team has made. As Ebou Jarra states: “I thought I was doing a lot until I saw that other volunteers (Seedy) were travelling in from Bolton – catching many trains and buses every week on Saturdays and even losing hours of employment to continue to coach the kids.” 

For Seedy it was the motivation to give the young people a new opportunity that they didn’t have when they were growing up. A little bit like us here at The Apprentice Academy, helping young people into work in a different way – as an alternative to university. As Seedy Njie explains, for him, it was:  “When I was growing up [in Africa] I wish I could have a similar experience to these young people, with coaches rather than playing in the streets, looking at these kids, with people like us giving our time to them they could achieve a lot.”

And for Ebou Jarra, it is the valuable and visible contribution of businesses getting behind grass roots football that makes all the difference. “Seeing The Apprentice Academy is putting in money to help the kids shows that Manchester businesses care, that we can all make a difference, we have reached this far and we want to do more”

As Jim from The Apprentice Academy states What we love about Ardwick FC is that it is so much more than football.  It is about an environment that the kids can come down and feel part of something. Ebou and the team want the kids to have fun however they also take things like discipline, respect, team work and turning up on time as something really important, which are values we teach here to our apprentices for businesses… players won’t get on the team if they don’t display these values – I really like what this all teaches

So congratulations to Ardwick FC, who have had a great season, and congratulations to all those involved in helping the young people achieve success, in all the different forms that this entails.