SUNDERLAND schoolgirls are set to kick-start their sporting skills, after signing up to a nationally recognised event, designed to showcase opportunities in football for women.
100 female students, aged between 14 and 16 – predominantly from schools across Sunderland – have signed up to take part in an event organised by the Sunderland College to help shine a light on the opportunities in the sport for young female players.
The event – #WECANPLAY – is a girls’ football tournament, that is taking place as part of Girls’ Football Week on October 10. It is expected to attract national attention, having gained the support of the Association of Colleges and with TV crews from Sky Sports and FA TV among those thought to be descending on the college on the day to capture the event.
The event will see ten schools play against each other at five-a-side football, as well as other activities such as speed cage, which tests the girl’s power when kicking the ball; ‘soccercise’ – exercise using a football – and an appearance from England International players – known as lionesses – and Sunderland AFC professionals to inspire and educate. The players will be giving a five-minute talk on their career, having photos taken with participants and taking part in a question and answer session.
The girls will also take part in an SAFC-led Coaching Masterclass to gain new skills and will be able to try different formats of football.
The goal of the event – which was set up by Lucy Oliver, sports development officer, at Sunderland College – is to promote different opportunities within football and encourage more schools and young people to pursue sport at the college.
Lucy said: “There are so many benefits to sport – not only in terms of a person’s health, but in respect of wellbeing, confidence and in boosting life skills, like team-working, resilience, respect and trust.
“This event is designed to get the next generation more engaged in football, and to raise their aspirations about what they might be able to achieve through sport.
“Events like this really do bring sport into sharp focus – and we hope that the girls leave with a really positive impression of the college, and of the ways in which they can use their sporting ability to pursue success.”
The event, which will take place at Bede Campus’ Goals Centre, is set to attract students from schools right across the city, who are keen to take part in the programme, as well as students from other schools in the region if places remain.
Beth Mead, striker for Sunderland AFC Ladies said: ““Events like this are an amazing opportunity to give girls the chance to play the best sport in the world and be able to enjoy and play football no matter what their level.
“Girls Football Week, a week dedicated to playing football, is my idea of heaven! I am really looking forward to the We Can Play event at Sunderland college and meeting all of the players taking part.”
Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College, said: “We aim to raise the aspirations – and then achievements – of all young people, and it is through events like this, that are made possible by the endeavor and commitment of our curriculum team, that we can engage with young people at a critical time and get them interested in sport and fitness.
“The opportunity for young students to test their ability against that of other students in their peer group, and to grow as people through the process is fantastic. And this will hopefully help to hook them into the sport, which could deliver all manner of benefits for them long into the future.”
Everyone who takes part will leave with a goodie bag, with tickets to SAFC Ladies football games and a range of other freebies.
To sign up a school for the event, visit sunderlandcollege.ac.uk/wecanplay