Sunderland College’s city-wide partnership with Foundation of Light has created opportunities for young student-athletes to achieve their goals.
Since teaming up in 2021 to give hundreds of young people greater access to qualifications, sports and employment opportunities, the partnership’s Football Scholarship programmes – part of the college’s Sports Academies – saw success in national leagues and cups with student-athletes representing their countries, progressing to leading local clubs and accepting offers from top universities.
As well as playing at professional football stadiums, the student-athletes also competed at the prestigious Dallas Cup and travelled to Europe for training camps.
This season, the Men’s scholarship squads finished second in their league and reached the semi-finals of the NFYL League Cup. Several players, such as Jack Caygill, have signed for Northern League clubs.
First year student-athlete Jack, who is studying Sport and Exercise Science, Applied Psychology and Criminology and was named Player of the Season, said: “The Scholarship programme has been huge for my development and given me the platform to play at a higher level.
“We had a good year over the season and that was down to the coaching as well as our own commitment and effort. Being able to combine playing football with my studies is fantastic and I’m looking forward to the coming year.”
The Women’s Scholarship squad also enjoyed a stand-out year, reaching the League Cup quarterfinals, seeing players sign for local clubs including Sunderland AFC Women’s academy, move to the US on sports scholarships or progress to higher education at Russell Group universities.
Sunderland College and Foundation of Light’s Women’s Football Scholarship also became part of Sunderland AFC Women’s Academy which offers a direct pathway for young players into professional football.
Emily Brown, who received a triple Distinction* in Sports Coaching and Development this summer and will be heading to Durham University to study Primary Education, said: “I always wanted to do well in my education so to be able to study and play football at the same time was a dream come true.
“I’ve been given a lot of opportunities that I didn’t expect. I would recommend the Scholarship; I’ve grown as a person and now I’m going to go to Durham University and looking to qualify as a teacher.”
Each Scholarship mirrors the ethos of professional football academies to provide talented young footballers with the best education and opportunities on and off the pitch, supported by the state-of-the-art facilities and coaching programmes.
Student-athletes can follow bespoke academic pathways at the college’s Bede and City campuses, with a choice of technical and vocational qualifications ranging from Sports Coaching and Development and Sport and Exercise Sciences to Engineering and Business, A-Levels, or a mix of both.
They also train under the guidance of UEFA and FA-qualified coaches at world-class venues across the city, including the Foundation’s Beacon of Light, Sunderland College’s Sports Academy, and Downhill Football Hub, with access to bespoke strength and conditioning with nationally renowned coach, Martin Nugent, in a state-of-the-art facility at Bede Campus.
Michele Di Mascio, Sports Academies and Partnerships Manager at Sunderland College, said: “As well as the overall success thanks to the partnership with the Foundation, we’ve had many individual achievements both on and off the pitch.
“It is an outstanding city-wide partnership that really has our student-athletes at the heart of everything we do and we’re looking forward to the coming academic year.”
Stewart Doyle, Scholarship Head Coach at Foundation of Light, added: “We’ve been delighted with how the partnership with Sunderland College has developed.
“The 2023-24 academic year and season will be even bigger with links developed with top local semi-professional clubs which will give our student athletes the opportunity to play in the FA Youth Cup as well as the chance to play at a high level.
“We’re really excited with what we can offer our student-athletes this year.”
If you have a real talent for sport, join one of Sunderland College’s Sports Academies in Football, Rugby and Netball, or Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.
You will have the opportunity to combine your full-time studies with an elite training programme involving professional coaching and competitive matches to stay at the top of your game.
To find out more, book your place on an enrolment event at www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk/enrol.
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