English Premier League titans Manchester United are to run football schools for youngsters living in the tsunami-hit northeast of Japan, a club sponsor said on Thursday.
The club, who were this week knocked out of the Champion's League after a controversial refereeing decision, will offer places for nearly 100 youngsters over five days starting from March 26, Japanese sponsor Kagome said.
The elementary school children will come from three disaster-struck prefectures, the soft drinks firm said, adding that the training centres would be repeated during its 2013-2015 sponsorship agreement with the club.
"The main purpose of the football schools is to give support to the children of the Tohoku region," it said in a statement.
Former United stalwart Andy Cole was expected to briefly attend the classes later this month, Kagome said, adding that club staff and coaches who specialise in childrens' programmes would come over from England.
The schools are part of a wider effort to help Japan's northeast which was struck by a 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami in March 2011, sparking the worst nuclear crisis in a generation at the Fukushima power plant.
The Japanese company also said it would sponsor part of the English club's tour in Asia this year, a friendly match against Yokohama F-Marinos in July.