YOUNG footballers are being given a course in healthy living and friendship.
Up to 40 kids aged eight to 10 years old are put through their paces once a week to help form stronger bonds on the pitch.
Sunderland Council handed out £525 from its Community Chest to set up the 15-week programme in Hylton Castle.
Volunteer Donna Weiss was awarded the cash in a bid to help break down barriers between young football teams, including her own, North East Sport Blues under-10s.
The youngsters are put through their paces by fitness instructor Carl Conifey, from Meso Fitness, and also learn about respect and healthy behaviour.
Mother-of-two Donna, 32, who coaches football alongside her husband Rob, said: “I’m trying to promote respect amongst the children.
“A lot of the children are from four different football teams and are from the local community, and the only times they really meet is on match days when playing competitively against each other.
“Working with the other coaches from the other teams, I decided to try and bring them all together and create a session where they are aiming for the same goal –health and fitness.
“Also, it gives the children something to do during the week and have fun.”
Donna, from Hylton Castle, thanked ward councillor Denny Wilson, who made the Community Chest application.
The sessions, which are free, take place at in the playing fields of Hylton Castle Primary School on Tuesday evenings.
Although the current course is fully booked, Donna is hoping to team up with Meso Fitness from Red House, to offer more sessions, including some for kids who do not take part in sport but want to improve their health.