Shildon have teamed up with Sunderland’s Foundation of Light charity to offer a new football scholarship for local youngsters.
The new scheme was launched today (Monday, September 5) at the Dean Street ground.
Each year 23 local youngsters will join a two-year course for a level 3 B-Tec diploma in sport performance and excellence. It’s free and open to 16-19 year-olds at centres in Shildon, South Durham and Sunderland. It includes daily training, education and weekly national fixtures.
The scholarship combines academic studies with high level football coaching and the chance to represent Sunderland AFC in the national u19s Football Youth Development League against clubs such as Liverpool and Crystal Palace.
The qualification can lead to further education, universities and employment.
Shildon chairman David Dent said:
“We want to be the best club that we can be – both on and off the field.
“We are focussed on being part of the local community.
“We set up a development centre for young players five years ago and last year’s u18s captain came off the bench to play against Washington at the weekend.
“This scheme is the next stage in developing our links with the local community.”
Jamie Wright, managing director of the Foundation of Light, said:
“We have had lots of opportunities in the past to work with colleges but it has never felt right. One of the issues we have had is what happens to the young people at the end of a two-year course.
“Our relationship with Shildon gives us a great opportunity to offer players a route into football after they finish this two-year scheme.
“Ultimately we’d like a player to come through and represent Sunderland at first team level, but others may want to get into physio work or sports journalism, or even gain a sports scholarship in the States.”
Foundation of Light are taking expressions of interest for next year’s intake of scholars. For more information contact 0191 5515199.