Sunderland AFC charity Foundation of Light is looking to a strong upcoming season for its girls’ football programme which is responsible for five players in this summer’s Lionesses World Cup squad.
Their performances in France has raised the profile of the women’s game – a record-breaking 11.7 million people watched the narrow semi-final defeat to the USA – inspiring thousands of young girls to get into football and the Foundation is offering businesses the opportunity to support the next generation of female players.
Of the 23 members of Phil Neville’s squad, five – captain Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze, Lucy Staniforth and Demi Stokes – are products of the Foundation’s highly successful Female Talent Pathway which engages over 1,000 girls every year.
Key to the programme’s success is a ‘Talent Pathway’ built around the Sunderland Regional Talent Club and Football Scholarship programmes which have provided a platform for dozens of players to make their mark on the international and domestic stage.
Recognised as one of the best youth academies in the country, the Regional Talent Club’s U16s squad compete in the FA’s Tier 1 North League against clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool with the younger age groups playing in the local Russell Foster Youth League.
The Football Scholarship combines representing Sunderland AFC with studying full-time, developing the youngsters as people as well as players. The team won the inaugural Community and Education Football Alliance League – the EFL’s first organised competition for females – beating Manchester City in the last game of the season.
In the last 12 months, 11 players from the Regional Talent Club and Women’s Scholarship have featured in the Lionesses’ youth set up, ensuring the future is bright for girls’ football in the North East.
To maintain and develop the programme, the Foundation are seeking sponsors for the 2019-20 season who will receive a great package of benefits alongside being responsible for improving opportunities for girls wanting to play and excel at football.
Jamie Wright, Foundation of Light Director of Programmes said: “The Women’s World Cup has captured the imagination and has been a source of local pride with so many of the Lionesses developing their skills here in the North East.
The Regional Talent Club and Girls Scholarship are both fantastic programmes with track records in engaging girls in sport, and developing elite footballers, that speak for themselves.
As a commercial sponsorship opportunity, they offer high visibility and brand value which will pay dividends for any prospective sponsor.
“We’ve achieved a lot so far, but we could always do more with more support in the form of sponsorships. I personally don’t like the ‘Lioness Factory’ name because it sounds impersonal but when we hear it being used to describe clubs like Ajax and Lyon for how they develop their players, it’s probably fitting. In terms of our success, the numbers speak for themselves and we have high hopes for this season’s players.”
- Front of shirt branding on Sunderland Regional Talent Club and Football Scholarship Adidas home and away kits.
- Local and national media coverage
- Coverage on Foundation of Light promotional material including website and social media channels
- Coverage on governing body websites and social media including Premier League and EFL
- Visibility at Foundation festivals and tournaments
Written By CHRIS FRYATT
10 July 2019