Student-athletes representing Sunderland AFC are celebrating after winning a tournament featuring some of the country’s biggest football clubs.
The Women’s Football Scholars – a sport and education programme delivered by Sunderland College and Foundation of Light – lifted the NFYL League Cup at Bolton Wanderers FC’s University of Bolton Stadium following a 2-1 extra-time victory against Barking Abbey Football Academy.
Overcoming the likes of Everton and Huddersfield to reach the final of a competition which included development sides from Women’s Super League giants Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, marks the end of a successful first year of the city-wide partnership between two of the North East’s leading sport, education and skills training providers.
Dan Finney, Sports Academies and Partnership Manager, said: “We are so proud of the achievement of our Women’s Football Scholars, playing at that standard on a weekly basis is a huge challenge, so to lift a national trophy is exceptional.
“The effort of our student-athletes and our partners at Foundation of Light has clearly paid off and this is an experience they will remember forever. Congratulations to all involved.”
The Men’s and Women’s Football Scholarships gives young people the opportunity to study a wide range of courses at the college while taking part in a comprehensive football programme led by the Foundation’s highly qualified coaches.
Each Scholarship is designed to mirror the ethos and schedule of professional football academies, with students training under the guidance of UEFA and FA qualified coaches at the college’s multi-million-pound Sports Academy at its Bede Campus and the world-class Beacon of Light, while representing the Black Cats in regional and national competitions.
Off the pitch, students can follow bespoke academic pathways, studying vocational qualifications or A-Levels, ensuring they have the skills, knowledge and experience to progress into employment, further study or to higher education.
Women’s Scholarship Head Coach, Steve McLarence, said: “Considering it’s a cup final at a professional stadium, on a pitch like that, we’ve done really well and worked really hard throughout the game.
“We’ve always had girls come into the programme who work hard and want to get better, both in the classroom and on the football pitch.
“The fact we’ve won something every season shows how much they’ve progressed year-on-year and we’ve kind of brought the players in who we think want to improve.”
Sunderland College originally partnered with Foundation of Light in 2021 to pool expertise, further shape the intent of the curriculum, and align shared values to improve the lives and learning opportunities of thousands of young people across Wearside and beyond.
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Our achievement rates are well above the national average.
We are the College of the Year.
(*Top college nationally for BTECs, Pearson 2019)
100% of our HND and HNC students progressed to employment or further study.
(*Destination data, academic year 2016/17, HNC 19+)
We have recently invested £50 million in our facilities.