A unique partnership between Sunderland College and Trinidad and Tobago is expected to see some of the best players in the West Indies come to Wearside to improve their game.
16-year-old striker Gary Griffith is the first player to make the long journey across the Atlantic in a ground-breaking move pioneered by the partnership between Improtech Soccer Elite coaching company and Sunderland College. A national men’s under 17 forward, Gary is a member of the Trinidad and Tobago U-17 team that played at the CONCACAF U-17 Men’s Championship at IMG Academy in Florida earlier this year.
Gary recently attended the Sunderland v Portsmouth game at the Montgomery Suite at the Stadium of Light and was asked to undertake one of the draws for the day’s proceedings. A guest of Brian Henderson, father of Liverpool FC’s captain, Jordan Henderson, Gary met Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips on the day.
The move continues Sunderland’s strong links with Trinidad and Tobago with former internationals Dwight Yorke, Stern John, Carlos Edwards and Kenwyne Jones all having played for the club. The Elite International Football Development Centre runs as a professional academy combining educational studies with professional training and competitive games. Academic studies are built around the college’s training and games’ programme to provide a timetable that supports both academic and footballing excellence.
Further International Football Development Centre students are set to arrive over the next month in preparation for another academic year and football season, and follows Sunderland College being crowned the Pearson College of the Year, with its men and women’s football teams both celebrating regional and national success.
Speaking about his time at Sunderland College, Gary said: “I have found the level of coaching, quality of players and overall atmosphere at the Sunderland College Elite Football Development Centre to be welcoming and professional, whilst offering quality coaching and skilled training.
“I am very impressed with the strength training programmes designed to improve overall fitness and the general atmosphere is one that encourages excellence. I know I will emerge a better version of myself.”
Steve Golightly, Director of Football Education (Improtech Soccer), said: “We’re really pleased to have Gary here as the first in what we hope will be a production-line of talented young players coming across from the West Indies.”
Since his arrival in Sunderland, Gary has played in two friendlies for Sunderland College against Sunderland AFC and Hartlepool FC.
The partnership between Sunderland College and Improtech Soccer Elite coaching company is providing Sunderland College’s footballers with a dedicated educational experience alongside the highest of professional coaching and competitive games.