North East students set to represent Sunderland AFC

Sunderland AFC’s ambitions for a bigger international fan base are being supported by a host of North East pupils.

On December 8 more than 70 pupils, aged 13-15, took part in Sunderland’s final of the Premier League Challenge at the Stadium of Light.

This year’s challenge saw the groups looking to increase their clubs international fan base and its income streams from the USA.

Black Cats Legend Kevin Ball said: “People should be made more aware of how we promote the club in other avenues.

“So when it comes to events like this I think it’s a really good idea to show the young people that yes football is the paramount part of our club. But how we market our club going to a place like America is vitally important.”

The enterprise challenge is ran nationally every year, meaning that Sunderland take part alongside all of the other premier league clubs.

The Foundation of Light hold many enterprise events in primary and secondary schools across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.

The 14 groups presented to a panel of judges including, Dr Elaine Hooker, head of business and innovation and leadership management at Teesside University, Sarah Ward, added value coordinator at ESH added value and Richard Hopper, head of commercial at foundation of light.

Richard Hopper outlined how beneficial an event like this is for the club and for the pupils involved.

“For the youngsters it’s fantastic. It’s really important for them to get an experience that is educational but not direct learning in a classroom. I think it’s more relevant to the real world” he said.

Richard Hopper went on to say: “For the club, I think it’s really important that through the community side of the foundation of light that we work with so many people each year and we are the charitable arm of the football club.

“It is the good quality community stuff that is life changing.”

Chris Towers, Education officer at the Foundation of Light, said: “The Premier League challenge opens up students horizons and helps improve their skills for the future.”

He went on to say: “I think definitely it improves their skills such as organisation, planning, team work, independent work and presentation skills.

“For them to be able to get up and stand in front of 80 people at the stadium they will have definitely improved their skills.”

This year’s winning group, EHCL, from Shotton Hall Academy, County Durham, will now progress onto the regional final which takes place at Stoke’s Bet365 stadium, in January.

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