Female footballers from Sunderland and Newcastle build bridges ahead of derby

Girls from Biddick Academy in Washington represent Sunderland in a derby football match against pupils from John Spence Community School
Girls from Biddick Academy in Washington represent Sunderland in a derby football match against pupils from John Spence Community School
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YOUNGSTERS from both sides of the derby divide met up for a kick-about as the countdown to the first Tyne-Wear encounter of the season continues.

Female footballers, aged between 14-16, represented Sunderland and Newcastle United as part of the Building Bridges project, which helps tackle crime and antisocial behaviour between young fans.

The scheme is backed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, and sees teenagers from both Wearside and Tyneside get involved in activities – focusing on football-related rivalries between the two clubs.

Pupils from Biddick Academy, in Washington, donned Sunderland’s red and white stripes, while the Magpies were represented by John Spence Community School, in North Shields.

Both schools are part of the Premier League Girls Football programme for the Foundation of Light and Newcastle United Foundation.

Helen Byrne, Foundation of Light’s lead women and girls football development officer said: “It was great to see that the power of football can be used to bring young players together who support different teams, and tackle a number of social agendas within society such as crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Building Bridges was helped by Ms Baird after she donated £20,000 from the Community Safety Fund towards the project in 2013.

Ms Baird said: “I’m a huge supporter of the work of Foundation of Light and Newcastle United Foundation, and I’m delighted their work is encouraging more girls to play football.”