SUNDERLAND football favourites helped launch a new £530,000 complex that aims to find the stars of tomorrow.
The new all-weather floodlit sports pitch has been installed at Farringdon Community Sports College in Sunderland, where 20-year-old England international Jordan Henderson was a student.
Former SAFC stars Micky Horswill, Gary Bennett and Martin Scott were on hand to pass on their knowledge to youngsters at the official opening of the facility, at Allendale Road, yesterday.
The full size 3G pitch will be available for use by the secondary school, neighbouring primary schools and football clubs.
Evening and weekend slots on the pitch, which can be sectioned into three smaller fields, are fully booked for September.
“This is a fantastic resource for the school,” said headteacher Howard Kemp.
“It is a superb surface for football and we look forward to a season of total football at Farringdon next year.
“We are also delighted about the impact that the pitch has had on our community.
“It has already strengthened our links with community clubs and Sunderland AFC.”
Two more Farringdon students are making their first strides on a career in football.
Liam Agnew starts a two-year apprenticeship at SAFC in September, while Ellie Hall has been picked for the England under-16 squad to play in Europe this summer.
The Department of Education contributed £350,000, with other funding from Football Federation and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, and support form Sunderland Council and clubs in the area.
Councillor Mel Speding, cabinet secretary at Sunderland Council, said: “The new artificial pitch at Farringdon will be a great resource for both the school, clubs and the community.
“Sunderland’s, and indeed Farringdon’s, strong footballing heritage will very much continue so long as facilities like this are developed and provide new opportunities to another generation of aspiring footballers.”