Sunderland star Michael Turner on the ball with youngsters

Sunderland player Michael Turner launches the SAFC Foundation's Little Dribblers football skills course at the Bunny Hill Centre.
Sunderland player Michael Turner launches the SAFC Foundation's Little Dribblers football skills course at the Bunny Hill Centre.
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BIG Black Cats star Michael Turner had a kickabout with little dribblers to launch a new family programme.

The defender pitted his skills against toddlers at Bunny Hill Children’s Centre, Hylton Lane, as part of SAFC Foundation’s Little Dribblers sessions.

Aimed at two- to five-year-olds, the project encourages tots to get fit and have fun.

Michael said: “This is another great thing that the foundation does to help kids.

“I started off playing football for my local Sunday League team when I was about seven or eight and I just remember really enjoying it.

“It’s crucial to make sure that sport is fun for kids at this age.”

SAFC Foundation, the club’s official charity, will be hosting Family Learning Through Football sessions at the centre as part of its drive to increase the facilities and opportunities available to families.

Michael added: “The work that the foundation does for the community is huge and the staff work so hard. It’s great that we have a charity that other clubs can look up to.

“From a personal point of view it’s nice to come and do something like this. I remember meeting footballers when I was a kid and getting such a buzz out of it.”

After Gentoo closed its office at Bunny Hill, the Children’s Centre moved into the ground floor space which now includes a sensory play area, an improved space for play activities and a toy library.

Susan Ord, extended service area co-ordinator for Children’s Centres, said: “Until December the Children’s Centre was on the second floor and was not best accommodated. It was not as family friendly and we had low visibility in the community.

“But Gentoo moving from the building gave the city council the opportunity to review the use of the building.

“I think the improvements here show how service delivery is a priority at a time of economic cuts.”