PFA gives its backing to Sunderland's Tall Ships Races
The organisation which backs footballers in England is supporting Sunderland's 2018 Tall Ships spectacle.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has pledged its backing to next year’s Wearside leg of the races.
And PFA director of education Patrick Lally visited the city to find out more.
He watched as the campaign - to find sail trainees to enjoy voyages on majestic tall ships - officially got under way at Sunderland Yacht Club.
He revealed how the PFA is hoping to choose a former North East player to sign up as a budding sailor.
The hope is that an ex-footballer from a club such as Sunderland or Newcastle United could learn new skills which could stand them in good stead in their years after the game.
Patrick told the Echo: “It is a pleasure for the PFA to be asked to participate in such an event.
“It provides us with a great opportunity to allow one of our former members to participate and learn skills that are going to help him in the future in whatever career he decides to go into.”
“We have got approximately 4,000 current members and 50,000 former members and we do whatever we possibly can to assist those members in whatever way, shape or form we have available.”
He described The Tall Ships Races as “a fantastic event to come to Sunderland. It raises the profile of the area.”
He said the income raised through areas such as tourism was phenomenal and added: “We are very proud to be associated with the event.”
The races are expected to bring a £10 million to £15million boost to Sunderland’s economy.
A fleet of 80 vessels is expected to arrive into Port of Sunderland for the leg from July 11 to 14, 2018.
They will stay for a four-day festival before taking part in a spectacular parade of sail at the start of the first race of the series to Esbjerg.
About 1.5 million visitors are expected to be attracted to the city for the spectacle.
Are you getting involved in next year’s event? Tell us all about your role in Sunderland’s big 2018 spectacle.