LIFE-CHANGING charity SAFC Foundation has 20,000 reasons to celebrate.
Its trainee programme has been given a £20,000 boost by the FA’s 2011 Respect and Fair Play Award.
The club won the award thanks to the good behaviour of fans during the 2010/11 season.
Sunderland supporters’ clubs chose SAFC Foundation as the recipient of the £20,000 prize where the donation will be put to use helping young people gain the skills, experience and qualifications necessary to find work through the charity’s trainee programme.
The two-year trainee programme works with young people aged 16-19 not in education, employment or training to give them a chance of better employment prospects.
On the last trainee programme, seven of the nine youngsters who completed the course went on to gain employment, with one going into further education.
SAFC keeper Craig Gordon and Foundation chief executive Lesley Spuhler received a cheque on behalf of the Foundation from Barry Bright, representing the FA, and Premier League director of football Mike Foster before the club’s recent home match against Stoke.
Lesley said: “Thanks to this donation from the FA we’ll be able to help young people get a good start to their careers through a two-year trainee programme.
“I’d also like to extend my thanks to the Sunderland supporters’ clubs who chose us as recipients for this donation and the Sunderland fans whose good behaviour made this award possible. They’re a credit to their club and community.”
Dermot Collins, the FA’s respect manager, said: “This award recognises the passion, loyalty and decency of Sunderland’s fans. It is a great achievement that the Black Cats fans have gained this accolade ahead of all of the other Premier League clubs”.
SAFC Foundation, the registered charity of Sunderland AFC, works with more than 40,000 youngsters and their families every year in programmes whichuse the football to involve, inspire and educate young people and their families through a broad range of innovative activities across the North East of England.
The charity is structurally and financially independent of Sunderland AFC and relies on fundraising for 95 per cent of project costs.