Quinton Fortune’s Latest Project Proves Football Is More Than Just A Game

When we catch up with former professional footballer Quinton Fortune he is settling his 10-month old son Zion, who has just woken up. “I appreciate sleeping a lot more!” he says laughing, “I’m taking on daddy duties while mummy is at work. He’s such a blessing and he’s taught me so much”. Fortune, who previously played for Manchester United, grew up in South Africa with several siblings, playing football with his brothers since he could walk. Despite saying “I come from – if you want to call it that – a difficult background.”, he was constantly inspired to keep pursuing his passions with dedication, signing to Manchester United in the summer of 1999 – and it seems professional football wasn’t just his end goal…

Tell us about the Quinton Fortune Football Academy…

It came at a very good time – my Co-Founder had a business background and I have a football background. The Quinton Fortune Academy is aimed for children aged 6-13 years old who wants to develop and improve their footballing skills. I always wanted to have an academy and help young people and it’s incredible to now have the Quinton Fortune Football Academy.

 

 

How can sport be used as a tool for young people?

Sport kept me out of trouble when I was growing up in South Africa. Football especially can really help young people to develop life skills such as discipline, respect, leadership, team work, confidence, creativity and obviously it helps keeping you fit!  For me football is the best sport as you only need a ball and 11 to 14 players. It truly brings people together!

Why is giving back so important to you?

I have been so fortunate in life, somebody gave me a chance when I was young and I want to do the same for as many children as possible. I try to do that through my academy but also through my various involvements with numerous charities. Giving back is important to me and I think everybody can give some of their time to make a difference in this world and this is what I try to do. When I meet young people, I try to plant positive seed into their mind with the hope that in the future they can choose the right path and stay away from troubles. Indeed, we’re teaching them about the actual sport but also planting some lifetime values such as respect yourself and others…

 

 

Which projects have impacted you the the most? 

With the academy, we are currently running some taster sessions to give the parents and the kids the chance to come and see what we are all about and what we are offering. We’ve had so much interest that we keep adding some taster sessions!

As an ambassador for Grassroot soccer I’ve been to the camps in Cape Town, where I saw the volunteers who are incredible. They’re giving their time to educate young people and look after them, and to see the work they are doing out there that was incredibly inspiring for me. Recently, we took some of the kids to watch the movie Black Panther, thinking that some of the kids had never been to the cinema, nevertheless been outside of the area they live in, was surreal for me and I was very happy to be part of that. In addition, Black Panther is such an inspiring movie and the cast was so amazing, so many role models there that I thought it was the perfect movie for them.

People do say that I am a role model myself; I think I’m just a living proof that you can come from a poor and difficult background and still be whoever you want to be through hard work and dedication, so I hope children can see that despite their struggle. “Believe and you shall receive” this is one of my favourite quote from the Bible (Matthew 21:22/Mark11:24)

But It wasn’t my first time there, I was doing some work for another company called One Goal during the world cup which was also an eye-opening experience.

 

 

 

You’re running the 2018 London Marathon for the second time, on behalf of the Manchester United Foundation – what was your first experience like? 

It was the hardest thing ever! I only trained up to 17 miles and thought that would be OK. If you haven’t trained up to 22 miles, then you shouldn’t be sprinting! The first 13 miles I was flying and then after that I struggled…I wasn’t even taking any energy gels or anything. Just water – which was probably the worst thing you can do, you need to take anything that can help you. I’d never trained with those energy gels, so they told me if I hadn’t been using them while training, not to take any on the day because they could upset my stomach. It took me a month to really recover after the first time! My new word this year is commitment – you have to really remind yourself why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for.

 

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Why was it important to run on the Foundation’s behalf this year?

Well did you know that 1/3 of young people are living below the poverty line in Manchester? I didn’t and I couldn’t believe this was still the case in such country like the UK. Being so involved with the club I felt like I had to do something more than just playing the legends game. So I took part to the marathon last year. This year I decided to do it again as I want to do better (better times, better finish and certainly better donations), I am so competitive!  Hopefully, through this I can also raise more awareness about what the Manchester United do because it is truly inspirational.  This year, to make it even more interesting for Man Utd fans, I have a signed Man Utd shirt and ball up for grab (signed by the first team). I am just asking fan to guess my marathon running time when they make a donation, the person who is the closest to my actual time will win the shirt or the ball.

How is your training going? 

It hasn’t been easy this time around as we have a 10-month-old baby! Some days I’ve missed but I’ve tried to squeeze in most of my long runs, yesterday I did 12 miles and last Sunday I did another 20 miles.

I’m trying to be a vegan but it’s not easy because I love my fish and my chicken, and of course South African steak. I try as much as possible to follow a vegan diet. I feel so much better when I eat a lot of green food. But believe me it’s not easy!

 

 

Who gave you the best advice you’ve ever received?

When I left South Africa at 14 I spoke to my parents, and my dad told me something that has helped me through my life: “wherever you go in the world just make sure you find a church”. And I’ve carried that with me wherever I am.

Your personal positive luxury…

Organic toys for Zion to use in the bath. He picks it up and bites it, he’s got a couple of teeth now so he goes crazy on them!

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You can donate to Quinton Fortune’s JustGiving page here, raising funds for the Manchester United Foundation.

Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you might also enjoy reading Team Spirit: How These Companies Foster Positivity In Sport and 5 Instagrammers Using Their Voice For Good

 

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