Sunderland stars pass on their skills to scores of young players

Safc ladies fooballer Beth Mead taking part in a girls football festival at Farringdon Community Academy, Sunderland on Tuesday.

Safc ladies fooballer Beth Mead taking part in a girls football festival at Farringdon Community Academy, Sunderland on Tuesday.

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STARS of Sunderland Ladies’ promotion-winning side passed on their skills to youngsters at a special half-term event.

Almost 100 players took part in coaching sessions with Lady Black Cats players Beth Mead and Rachael Laws at Farringdon Community Academy.

As well as learning from the FA Women’s Super League 2 Champions, the youngsters also got involved in an official’s workshop with top female referee Lucy May while developing their skills with specialist coaches from Foundation of Light, Sunderland AFC’s registered charity.

Beth: “It’s been great playing with the girls and the Foundation have organised a fantastic event which gives female players an opportunity to get involved, learn new skills and meet new people.

“It’s nice to see them enjoying their football and hopefully events like this will help the women’s game to grow by inspiring girls to develop and progress.”

Foundation of Light was one of the top three performing Barclays Premier League club charities in developing the Women and Girls’ programme last season, developing a player pathway to Sunderland AFC’s Girls Centre of Excellence and Durham FA Player Development Centre through its highly successful Girls’ Only football courses.

Helen Byrne, Foundation of Light’s Lead Women’s and Girls Football Development Officer, added: “This festival was about providing opportunities, it’s been a great day and all the girls have really enjoyed it. Each participant has been given information about local coaching sessions and clubs who are looking to recruit players, but not all of them want to play football so we’ve offered taster refereeing and coaching sessions too.

“It’s important everyone is made aware of all the avenues available to them.

“Beth and Rachael have acted as role models for the girls and have inspired the girls by sharing their knowledge.

“They used to attend sessions like this, so it shows if you work hard you can progress through our programmes or local clubs to the level they are at now.”

Scott Hackett, whose nine-year-old daughter attended the festival, said: “Any chance Francesca gets she has her football top on and has a kick about in the garden.

“This is the first time she’s had the opportunity to play with girls as she plays for an all-boys team.

“She’s really enjoyed herself today.”