22 November 2017
Foundation coach Jamie Chandler believes there a more players in the Football Scholarship capable of taking the step into professional football after second year duo Lewis King and Craig Ellison signed for Burnley FC.
Monkwearmouth forward Craig and Shildon captain Lewis put pen to paper on contracts with the Clarets last week in a season which has also seen goalkeeper Elliott Stephenson join Hartlepool United.
A number of Scholars have trialled with Premier League and Football League clubs in addition to representing Ebac Northern League sides, while Victoria Curtis has made her debut for Newcastle United Women in the FA Women’s Premier League.
There are definitely other players there who could make the step.That’s what the Scholarship programme is all about.
First and foremost, we make sure their education is right, but a lot of the scholars are here for the football. They love the games on a Wednesday and being full-time on the training pitch and they’re thriving off it.
There are a lot of very talented footballers [here] and seeing Lewis and Craig take the plunge we would love to see more of them given the opportunity.
The Foundation’s Football Scholarship gives young players aged 16-18 the opportunity to represent Sunderland AFC in national competition against teams such as Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace and study towards A Level and BTEC qualifications.
Lewis, Craig and Elliott have credited the programme for developing them not only as players but also as individuals and thanked their coaches for giving them the chance to pursue their dreams in football.
“The Scholarship has helped me massively,” said Craig. “The coaches do anything for you and constantly try to give you opportunities.
“If you want to play football day in, day out, make friends and achieve your dreams in football this is definitely the course to do.”
Defender Lewis added: “The Scholarship has helped me develop as a player both technically and physically. The coaches do a lot for you as a person and within football. I’d definitely recommend it.”
Elliott joined Hartlepool United’s academy during the summer following impressive displays for the double-winning Monkwearmouth Scholars and has featured regularly for the Vanarama National League sides’ under 19s.
He said: “I would like to thank the coaches for their input and fantastic support during my time on the Foundation’s Scholarship programme.
“When I joined I was immature and unfocused, but with their guidance and motivation I have achieved a scholarship with Hartlepool United.
“I would recommend the course to any young aspiring footballer wanting to play professional as without it I would not have achieved what I have.”
For more information about the Football Scholarship programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 5515067.