Shillong, Mar 31: Meghalaya’s upcoming footballing talent, the 17-year-old Federick Kupar Kurbah, recently got a once in a lifetime opportunity to hone his footballing skills through an exposure tour to the hallowed turf of Manchester United.

In the finale of the second season of Apollo Tyres and Manchester United’s programme ‘United We Play’, four young footballers – Federick (pictured second left with Man United’s Raphael Varane) along with Chennai’s RS Preyarhanjan, Chandigarh’s Ronald Singh and Kunal Yeole from Pune, were shortlisted among more than 5,000 participants to visit Old Trafford to participate in exciting activities like matchday experience, training session with Manchester United Soccer School coaches and interactions with legends.

The United We Play programme is an on-ground grassroots football initiative by leading tyre maker Apollo Tyres, supported by Manchester United to encourage young football talent from across the country by giving them a platform to showcase their skills with the objective of motivating aspiring footballers to continue playing and introducing them to global training methodologies. The third season of the grassroots initiative is currently underway.

Federick comes from a humble family background with his single mother raising four children. He started playing football at a very tender age with his friends from the neighbourhood. His grandmother and uncle, both football fanatics, were impressed by the early signs and the idea of making it a career option took shape. Federick, a massive Neymar fan, started training under his school coach when he was in Class 6. After three years of dedicating his life to football and partly academics, the pandemic hit and derailed the orientation. Federick, however, never gave up and continued with his training at home, imitating various techniques from online videos of his favourite player.

He passed the initial round of trials held at Polo Ground, Shillong, and qualified for the grand finale in Chennai where he impressed everyone with his skills and ability.

Coming back from his unforgettable visit, Federick said, “I feel truly happy and excited after the exposure trip to Manchester United. Not only did we meet the legends of the club, but got to interact with several first team and U-18 players as well. The highlight for me was the training we received at the Go The Distance pitch and at the Carrington training ground. It was indeed a memorable trip for me.”

The trials for the second season of United We Play were organised across 19 venues in India in a hybrid format comprising 10 virtual workshops and masterclasses across 12 markets and an on-ground leg across eight markets in two phases, covering more than 5,000 aspiring players.

(Photo contributed)

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