South Shields FC links up with school to form new football programme

From left to right, South Shields FC joint manager Graham Fenton, head of youth performance and development Jamie Williams, Mortimer Community College deputy headteacher Stephen Pickersgill and headteacher Simon Hignett, South Shields FC managing director Keith Finnigan, coach Wess Brown, who will help to run the new programme, and joint manager Lee Picton.
From left to right, South Shields FC joint manager Graham Fenton, head of youth performance and development Jamie Williams, Mortimer Community College deputy headteacher Stephen Pickersgill and headteacher Simon Hignett, South Shields FC managing director Keith Finnigan, coach Wess Brown, who will help to run the new programme, and joint manager Lee Picton.

Budding footballers are to get the chance to become part of South Shields Football Club as the Mariners set sail on a new partnership with a school in the town.

The club has linked up with Mortimer Community College to form a development programme for youngsters aged between 11 and 16.

Club chairman Geoff Thompson says this is another 'important step' for South Shields FC.

Club chairman Geoff Thompson says this is another 'important step' for South Shields FC.

It will begin in September with 20 hand-picked children who are currently in year six and will be supported with their football and studies until the end of year 11.

The players will have a daily training schedule and opportunities to play against established football clubs and talent groups.

The new age 11 to 16 academy will be led by coaches Jamie Williams and Wess Brown, who work full-time for the football club.

The programme will run in conjunction with the club’s 16 to 19 academy which is led by Lee Picton and Graham Fenton as the club aims to provide a platform for young players to progress.

The launch of this initiative and partnership with Mortimer Community College is another important step in progressing our football club as an integral part of the South Tyneside community

Geoff Thompson

Club chairman Geoff Thompson said: “The launch of this initiative and partnership with Mortimer Community College is another important step in progressing our football club as an integral part of the South Tyneside community. We are determined to continue our momentum and to make sure the club is well positioned for success in all of our various activities.”

Mr Williams, the Mariners’ head of youth performance and development, said: “The partnership with Mortimer Community College is further evidence of the club’s ongoing ambition and commitment to shape our future in the present, taking every opportunity to be better today than we were yesterday.

“The traditional notion that coaching young talented players is exclusively about readying them to become elite professionals is not enough for us – both school and club believe in readying the individual as a learner, athlete and person.

“It’s a rounded, holistic approach that is about equipping young people with a blend of life skills and qualities that will prepare them for the uncertainty of the future.”

Mortimer Community College headteacher Simon Hignett said: “The club are very much part of the South Shields community and this completely aligns with our standing as a school. This is a fantastic opportunity and we look forward to working with the club as they are very much a team on the march.”

A recruitment programme is already in place to prepare for the September launch.