SAFC Ladies are on a roll at a new seafront attraction.
Members of the football team celebrated the end of the season by pulling on their skates at the roller rink, one of the highlights of the Sunderland Illuminations.
The team are on a high after coming fourth in the top flight Women’s Super League, which finished last week.
Amber Whiteley, the team’s media and marketing officer, said: “The support we’ve been getting from people is brilliant, especially after the World Cup. So many more girls are getting into football, which is great to see. The Foundation of Light have noticed more and more girls coming along to their coaching sessions.
“For us, it’s nice for the girls to do events in the community to give something back for all the support.”
The roller rink, in Cliffe Park, is one of the highlights of the illuminations and is open Thursdays to Sundays until November 1 from 4pm to 10pm.
Coun John Kelly, responsible for leisure at Sunderland City Council, said: “We’ve been absolutely blown away by the visitor numbers. It’s fantastic to see the seafront so alive and people enjoying themselves. They’re also getting exercise without even realising it.”
Nearly 50,000 people have visited Sunderland Illuminations since they were switched on two weeks ago by City Ambassador Lauren Laverne and Leader of Sunderland City Council Coun Paul Watson.
In 2014, the illuminations had 146,000 visitors. So far this year, the figure is estimated at 45,000 already.
Coun Kelly added: “Early estimates suggest that we’re well up on last year’s figures already.
“There are more lights, more attractions and consequently there’s more people this year. We had a few crowding issues last year with the numbers coming to the seafront and enjoying all the illuminations and the side-shows.
“This was especially with some bottlenecks in Roker Park with the numbers and so that’s why we’ve introduced a one-way system this year. It helps keep everybody moving in the same direction and means that everyone can get to see the lights.
“We’ve got a lot of stewarding and crowd control experience, from other big events such as the Sunderland International Airshow, and every year we learn and apply more knowledge to our events programme.
“We’re really delighted with the success of the Illuminations so far this year.
“The crowds have exceeded expectations and I’m very proud that Sunderland is offering and delivering such a fantastic, free, family friendly event for residents and visitors.”
•We’ve got two family passes worth £15 each to give away to the roller rink. To be in with a chance of winning, email your names and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date: Monday.