Manchester United assistant manager and Nelson old boy, Mike Phelan, returned to his (grass) roots when he helped to coach youngsters at The Leisure Box in Brierfield.
Phelan, who was famously Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant during the Old Trafford club's glory years, made a quick detour from Carrington to help coach six, seven and 12-year-old players at the community facility.
The well-respected football figure, now number two to current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, was there on behalf of his company, www.sensiblesoccer.co.uk, which sponsors two such teams and through a recent partnership agreement with www.thecoachingmanual.com the budding youngsters were given free membership and access to the new TopTekkers app.
The TopTekkers mobile phone app provides both guidance and challenges for all levels of player from beginner to elite, and can form part of any club or schools' learning curriculums through the medium of football.
“It isn’t a recruitment exercise and it isn’t about finding the next Marcus Rashford or Mason Greenwood. It’s about young children enjoying football and living a healthy and happy life,” said Phelan.
Sensible Soccer, whoch has an office in Burnley, believes there is growing evidence for gamification and digital interaction to be an ever growing catalyst for sports participation among younger generations.
Phelan added: “Anything like this that gets young people playing and enjoying sport on their terms can surely only be a positive.
"The app is easy to use, although I have to say the young boys and girls were way ahead of me in navigating the display, but their enthusiasm and the desire to not only go and play but to go and play again and repeat the following day was infectious and highly pleasing to see.”
Damian Greenwood, from sleeve sponsors D&M Creative Limited, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to host the event and watch Mike working with my son’s team, Todmorden JFC Thundercats. They clearly love the app and I believe that this is the perfect example of just how digital engagement can also have a truly positive influence on our next generation.”