SUNDERLAND AFC may not have won a major trophy this season, but these mini dribblers could still be in with the chance to claim a national title for the city.
Fulwell Junior School under-11s football team beat off competition from more than 200 youngsters to be crowned regional champions of the Premier League Schools Tournament, run by SAFC’s official charity, The Foundation of Light.
The team, led by teacher Greg Rob, will now represent Sunderland at the National Finals at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium on May 20.
They will compete against winners of the other regional heats, refereed by top Premier League officials.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Rob. “They played some good football and showed the right attitude, good spirit and sportsmanship. It was like watching Brazil at times, and Scotland sometimes, it was that bad.
“But I’m very proud of them and looking forward to the final.”
Six schools took part in the six-a-side tournament on Saturday, from Sunderland, Durham and South Tyneside: Cotsford Junior School, Peterlee, East Boldon Junior School, Boldon, Shotley Bridge Junior School, Consett, Whitburn Village Primary School, Whitburn, Fulwell Junior School, Fulwell, and St Cuthbert’s Primary School, Grindon Lane, Sunderland.
Fulwell won five out of six matches to win the trophy, and drew 2-2 in their first match against Whit- burn.
Cotsford also won their first five matches, but fell at the last hurdle, coming second to Fulwell.
Ian Archbold, competition and events coordinator at the Foundation of Light, said it was a great day, with a tremendous show of talent.
“It’s been a really fantastic morning,” he said. “There has been some great sportsmanship.
“Fulwell won, and you can see how much it means to them.
“Shotley Bridge came not expecting to do well, and finished well in the tournament.
“The teams put themselves on the line and there has been a bit of disappointment, but overall it’s been a fantastic day.”
Acting director of The Foundation of Light, Jamie Wright, added: “This is a great opportunity for Fulwell to go to the Etihad Stadium.
“The competition was held in the three geographical areas for the first time this year and it has worked really well.
“It’s all about them having a go and enjoying the game.”