A scouting mission is underway to find aspiring young footballers and coaches for a two-year scholarship programme which could set them on their way to life in the professional game.
Sunderland AFC’s official charity Foundation of Light is offering the places with the scheme due to start in September.
Scholarship players train and play in the National Youth Development League, in which all the teams are affiliated to a professional football club across the country as well as studying part-time for a BTEC level 3 sports qualification with education partner South Tyneside College.
A specialist coach development programme is also open to coaches who can join the Coaches Academy on a similar two-year programme.
On completion, would-be coaches are fully qualified and ready for employment.
Jamie Wright, director of Foundation of Light, said: “Making the right choices when you leave school is daunting for all young people but all our scholarship players and coaches can be certain they will find the very best training and facilities and a dedicated and professional team to help them achieve their sporting ambitions.
“From September, all our scholars and coaches can also look forward to training and using the world-class facilities of the Beacon of Light, which opens later this year.
“Working with South Tyneside College we have a dynamic vocational partner who is very supportive and delivers an innovative approach to teaching and learning for all our scholars and coaches.”
Alison Maynard, principal of South Tyneside College (Professional and Vocational), added: “Our ultimate goal is to provide all of our trainees with a positive outcome and progression route once the programme finishes, whether that’s extending their stay with the Foundation of Light, going into employment or onto Higher Education.”
Foundation of Light launched its Football Scholarship programme in partnership with South Tyneside College in 2016.
Recent scholar successes include Craig Ellison and Lewis King, who both signed for Premier League side Burnley, and Elliot Stephenson who signed for Hartlepool United last summer.
Current female scholar Jael Anderson, who plays in the National Youth Development League was this week selected for England Women’s U17 squad.
The Coaches Academy delivers hands-on training for entrants as well as providing the necessary formal qualifications to be a professional coach or teach PE in schools.
Former trainee Nathan Kew is now full-time coach for the foundation.