23 May 2017
Foundation of Light’s Sunderland Scholars will hope to take a giant step towards a trophy double when they face Brighton and Hove Albion at the Stadium of Light.
The Scholars are aiming to lift the NFYL Trophy on Wednesday (KO 4pm) with a potential NFYL Midlands/North League title decider against Liverpool coming just two days later.
The team is made up of youngsters who are part of the Football Scholarship Programme, a pioneering scheme run in partnership by the Foundation of Light, South Tyneside College and Monkwearmouth Academy.
Launched last September, it mixes opportunities to play or coach football professionally while delivering nationally recognised academic qualifications.
Martin Jones, the Foundation of Light’s Scholarship Manager, said: “The programme has been a tremendous success on the field in a short space of time.
Forty-eight young players have been able to represent Sunderland AFC in two teams, whilst also gaining nationally recognised qualifications through an intensive football and education programme.
“The Scholarship side are very talented and if the players perform to the best of their ability, then they have every chance of lifting the cup.”
As part of their cup final preparations, the squad have been given a tour of the Stadium of Light by former Black Cats defender Kevin Ball who has coached at all levels including U18 and with the SAFC first team, and is an Ambassador for Foundation of Light.
Alison Maynard, Principal of South Tyneside College’s Professional and Vocational College, said: “The performance of this team, who have been competing at under-19 level, is quite remarkable.
“I am sure they will perform well in the cup final, and I wish them every success.”
Steve Wilkinson, Executive Headteacher at Monkwearmouth Academy, added: “I am very proud of what these young players have achieved in the debut season of the football programme.
“I am sure they will enjoy playing at the Stadium of Light and will rise to the occasion.”
The young Black Cats overcame Barnet and West Ham United on route to the showpiece occasion against Brighton who defeated Plymouth Argyle, Crystal Palace and Watford to book their place in the final.