Foundation lights pathway for young footballer
Victoria taking first steps in professional game
Date published: 12th November 2017
Foundation of Light's Player Pathway is helping an aspiring footballer take her first steps in the professional game.
Victoria Curtis, 16, has featured for FA Women's Premier League side Newcastle United Women's FC this season as well as representing the charity's Football Scholarship Ladies.
The youngster began her football journey with Foundation of Light's Community Clubs which offer players the chance to become part of a team, train weekly and play in organised competition as part of the Russell Foster Youth League.
"I've always liked football from a young age," says Victoria. "It was actually my grandad's next-door neighbour who told me about SAFC Foundation Whites so I went along to training started playing for them when I was seven.
"I was competing against boys but didn't find it that physical or different really. It wasn't until I started playing girls football that I realised it did give me an advantage."
Victoria unsuccessfully trialled for the Sunderland and Gateshead Regional Talent Club which gave her extra motivation to develop her game.
She adds: "I went back to the Foundation Whites and tried to improve myself as a player. I was more defensive and they were looking for someone who was more rounded.
"Training with my team helped massively and when I returned to the RTC trials the following year I got in."
Then 12-years-old, Victoria found the regular coaching and games challenging but enjoyed her five years with the RTC at Gateshead's Academy for Sport.
Victoria says: "It was really good, the training was a big step up and obviously we were playing against other elite teams. I enjoyed my time there."
Looking for opportunities within football after graduating from the RTC, Victoria trialled for Newcastle United Women's FC, making her first-team debut earlier this season and joining Foundation of Light's Football Scholarship programme.
"After leaving the RTC I trialled for Newcastle United Women," she adds. "I've played for the first team in the FA Women's Premier League and I'm really enjoying it."
"My RTC coach Steve emailed me about the Scholarship programme and I came down for trials. It's been a great experience so far. We've had some great results.
"I'm studying A Levels in Biology, Psychology and PE at Monkwearmouth Sixth Form Academy as well as playing for Newcastle and the Scholars. I've found balancing my studies and football easy to be fair."
Victoria is a great example of our Player Pathway as she's come through from the Foundation's Community Clubs to the RTC and then our Football Scholarship.
We're extremely proud of what she has achieved so far.
Foundation Ladies Scholarship coach Steve McClarence
The Football Scholarship gives 16-18 year olds the opportunity to represent Sunderland AFC in national competition and gain qualifications through an intensive football and education programme.
Steve adds: "We found when girls were leaving the RTC it was too big a jump to go from under 16s football to a ladies' first-team.
"The Scholarship now bridges that gap and gives players an extra two years of development which will help them find clubs when they are ready.
"We have a number of exit routes through the Scholarship with a lot of the boys and girls interested in American scholarships.
"There is also the option to go to universities, into apprenticeships or employment if they weren't successful in football or decide they don't want to pursue a career in the game."
For more information about the Foundation Football Scholarship programme, email email@example.com or call 0191 5515191.