Testimonial tournament celebrates 10 years of Manningham
Ten years ago, Manningham Football Academy held its first training session, with 20 children turning out at the local sports centre for ‘a bit of a kick around’.
This past week, over 100 youngsters from across the local area gathered at the same spot for a special testimonial tournament, where slices of cake were served up alongside a game of football.
Over the last decade, the club has overseen the sporting development of thousands of children.
Weekly training sessions have helped launch five junior sides and also provided a number of aspiring coaches with the chance to earn their FA coaching badges.
Founded by Khalil Hussain in 2006, the ‘Manningham born and bred’ qualified coach has always been passionate about sport and says he was delighted to celebrate the latest milestone on Thursday 22nd December.
“In all honesty I didn’t think it would be as successful and as brilliant as it has been,” he said. “It’s just amazing how it’s all turned out.”
He added: “I just want to make sure that young people from my community have access to football and get the chance to play the beautiful game.
“It’s also about moulding them to become better people and socialise with new friends.
“We’re here to be those people to support them through that process.”
Khalil established Manningham Academy with the aim of getting one child into the setup of a professional football club.
Although he is still striving towards this goal, he says he is willing to continue his highly praised work for the benefit of the children.
“I did have a vision of getting young people to the next level to play semi-pro football and that’s still the vision I have today,” he said. “I thought, if I could do that, then I could retire.
“Looking at where we are today, it might be another 10, 20 or 50 years before we achieve this but as long as the children are enjoying themselves I’m happy to keep going.
“I genuinely enjoy working with young people in the community at this grassroots level and that’s why I do it.
“It’s about giving young people that opportunity. Bradford gets less segregated through sport because our kids go out there and mix with other areas.
Former Bradford City midfielder, Des Hamilton, was amongst the special guests at the anniversary event last week and was full of praise for the exciting setup.
He watched on as children from as young as 10 showed off their talents in the specially organised tournament before helping with the trophy presentation.
With the chance to eventually play open age for the academy should a semi-pro club not offer any places, there is certainly motivation to succeed in Manningham.
“We have one of the most diverse teams in Yorkshire in our open age setup,” Khalil added.
“There are black, white, Asian and Eastern European players, all playing together. It’s not just about the football but they are actually really good and have achieved three promotions already.”