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T&T’s Benny off to Man U
St Ann’s Rangers Under-17 midfield prodigy Che Benny and Antigua and Barbuda’s Ronaldo Flowers left T&T yesterday (Thursday) for Manchester United, England, after winning the Flow Ultimate Football Experience 2017 challenge final at President’s Grounds in St Ann’s, two weekends ago.
The 16-year-old Benny and 13-year-old Flowers, fondly referred to as ‘little Ronaldo (Brazil)’, stood out amongst a group of 30 finalists from across the Caribbean who were put to the test by Manchester United Academy coaches Mike Neary and William Miller.
Benny, who scored an instinctive half-line goal during the first of two scrimmages during the Flow Ultimate Football Experience final, said it’s a dream come true to visit his favourite club, Manchester United, and meet his favourite player, Spain’s Juan Mata, as well other stars such as France international Paul Pogba and Spain international Ander Herrera.
“It was at the start of the second half and I (quickly) spotted to goalkeeper off his line,” said the Belmont-born T&T Under-17 footballer as he recalled the moment.
“After I scored Mike (Neary) came and congratulated me, and he gave me a wink. I knew from then I had made it, although it didn’t stop me from working.”
A member of the St Anthony’s College Secondary Schools Football League squad, Benny also said that former T&T World Cup captain Dwight Yorke, a Manchester United legend and Ambassador who he made a bet with before for shooting tips during a training session with the national T U1-7s, reminded him on the day that he was representing T&T in the Flow Ultimate Football Experience challenge.
Benny who dribbled his way to the top prize said he has also been weaving through all the attention over the past two weeks which included on-camera interviews.
Flowers, who, like Benny, wants to become a professional footballer, said, “The Ultimate Football Experience challenge was very difficult because there were other talented players but I played hard.”
Both Benny and Flowers will enjoy a VIP experience, not limited to themselves but also a guardian and their respective club coach, at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s iconic stadium in Greater Manchester over a four-day period.
“This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and definitely the ‘ultimate football experience’ that these two young footballers have been given through Flow’s partnership with Manchester United,” said Wendy McDonald, Flow’s senior director of communications for the Caribbean, in a news release by the company. “We will continue to follow their journey to Manchester United and we hope this will encourage even more aspiring footballers from the Caribbean to be ready for opportunities like this.”
Rangers U17 coach Everette “Rocket” Williams, who will accompany Benny and his uncle Kevin Villafana, said the visit will include touring the famous Manchester United museum, witnessing a training session under the Red Devils’ first team boss José Mourinho and witness the club’s final English Premier League clash of the season against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday.