Airport City Manchester

Airport City teams up with Diane Modahl for new Wythenshawe school sports project

A newly launched initiative in Wythenshawe is using the success of local homegrown sporting heroes such as Marcus Rashford and Diane Modahl as inspiration to help young people gain qualifications and stay focused in school, with elite sports training techniques and coaching.

Pupils from St Paul’s Catholic High School, in Newall Green, Wythenshawe, will be the first to benefit from the programme, with high level sports coaching by champion sports stars.

It is led by the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation (DMSF) and funded by Airport City, the landmark £1billion development located next to Manchester Airport on the border of Wythenshawe.

Former middle-distance runner, Diane Modahl, who hails from Longsight and won gold at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, amongst many other titles, is behind the scheme and says that regardless of sporting ability, having a local sports hero to look up to – such as Wythenshawe born Marcus Rashford – helps to inspire young people to find their purpose, using sport as a catalyst for change.

Co-Founder & CEO of the DMSF, Diane Modahl, said: “Having role models is important, especially as a youngster we all need somebody to aspire to or to be inspired by. From Marcus Rashford or Phil Foden to Eleanor Cardwell or Laura Trott, there are lots of local role models who help prove that with hard work and the right attitude anything is possible.

“Creating a culture of high performance starts with doing the small things well, whether it’s making sure you turn up on time, making sure you are prepared, ensuring you bring a pen to class or your boots to training.

“I grew up in Longsight and went to school in Moss Side. When I reflect and look back at when I was growing up, it’s the 11-year-old Diane’s experiences that drive what the foundation today. There are 34 wards in Manchester, and two-thirds of them are amongst the most deprived in the UK and the statistics will tell you if you’re living in an area of deprivation the odds are against you from the off. On paper it’s still very difficult to break through that landscape of lack of opportunity, and of low aspiration.

“However, if you speak to any of the young people we are working with or if you spoke to me as an 11-year-old I wouldn’t tell you I was deprived because I didn’t feel it and because I grew up with a hardworking family and strong role models, I grew to understand what it meant to have a good work ethic.

“Airport City recognise that, on their doorstep, is a whole community seeking opportunities to be part of this brilliant destination. Sometimes businesses can drag their feet in terms of wanting to make a difference and the reason why this partnership works is that we authentically want to make a difference to the lives of the people in the surrounding community.

“Our partnership is about working with primary and secondary schools, providing an opportunity for pupils to develop the behaviours needed to seize opportunities to reach their potential. Whilst character development is embedded throughout our programmes it is crucial that we provide specific provisions and programmes, tailored to their needs for young people facing disadvantage.

The Diane Modahl Sports Foundation (DMSF) is a registered charity which works with young people from disadvantaged areas across the North West, enabling them to make the most of themselves in sport, school and life.

DMSF was set up by commonwealth games gold medallist Diane Modahl, who represented Great Britain in four Olympic games from 1988-2000 and her husband Vicente Modahl. Her early experiences as a young person from a deprived community inspired her to establish a youth foundation to help those most in need.

Caitlin Callaghan, of Airport City, said: “DMSF and Airport City Manchester will help young people develop focused thinking to study better while providing them with the building blocks for an easy transition from education to employment. What’s most important to us is that we can empower an ambitious community and create a place where great things happen.”

The success of the new programme will be measured by the opportunities offered and accessed by young people, progression onto volunteering, leadership and training roles and any increase in community members’ health and wellbeing.

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