High hopes for Sunderland Centre of Excellence

Graham Robinson and Melanie Reay are joined by SAFC mascots Samson and Delilah
Graham Robinson and Melanie Reay are joined by SAFC mascots Samson and Delilah
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FORMER Sunderland Women player Melanie Reay is delighted to be involved with the new Sunderland AFC Centre of Excellence.

The centre, which aims to develop the best young female footballers in the region, has been set up in a partnership between Gateshead College and the SAFC Foundation of Light. It will be run from Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport.

Now head coach at Gateshead College’s Women’s Football Academy, Reay said: “We are very excited about working in partnership with SAFC to help deliver the Girls’ Centre of Excellence at our Academy for Sport.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for young female footballers in the region, giving them access to world-class training and playing facilities.

“At Gateshead College we’re committed to providing the best sport provision in the North East and we’re delighted that the FA has recognised the outstanding coaching and facilities which we offer.”

Budding young female footballers will have the opportunity to kick start their playing career when the FA opens the new centre of excellence at the start of next season.

The Centre of Excellence programme provides elite player development opportunities for female footballers aged 7–17 years. Gateshead College will become one of only three colleges in the country involved in the initiative.

The SAFC Centre of Excellence will be one of 31 FA licensed centres across the country. The centre will deliver training and coaching twice per week and create opportunities for young players to develop playing careers at Sunderland Women with the potential to go on to represent England.

Graham Robinson, football development director at SAFC Foundation of Light, said: “Here at the Foundation of Light we are delighted to have the Centre of Excellence back in the North East. We are excited and enthusiastic about providing high quality coaching to gifted and talented female players from across the region.”

Open trials for the Sunderland AFC’s FA Girls Centre of Excellence at Gateshead College are being held Monday, June 18, Thursday June 21 (commencing at 5.30pm), and Saturday, June 23 (at 10am) at Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport Campus.