THE first elite football academies for school girls in the country are being launched in County
Durham and South Tyneside.
St Bede’s Comprehensive school in Peterlee and St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in
Hebburn are set to open their doors in September to the most promising young female
players in the region, from any school.
And the hope is they will deliver professional footballers of the future, with thriving senior
clubs on the doorstep in Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle ready to reap the benefits.
Overseeing the running and development of the two Improtech Soccer academies will be
Carlton Fairweather, the former manager of FA Women’s Super League side, Sunderland.
And Fairweather says he couldn’t be more excited about a project which might make the
North East a hotbed of ladies’ football in years to come.
He said: “There’s a reason why professional footballers train during the day – it’s the most
receptive time for you to work on your game.
“You’re at your sharpest mentally and physically at that time of the day and for a young
player to have the chance to work on their game during school hours is a massive bonus in
terms of their development.
“There’s nowhere like this in the North East or across the country where talented young girls
will be part of yearly groups of ladies footballers working on their skills alongside their
The Academies will be run by Improtech Soccer, the biggest provider of football in
education in the North of England, with successful centres on Tyneside, Wearside and
Carlton said: “I’ve seen the results Improtech has had over the years with young lads signing
for football clubs up and down the country and I would like to do the same for girls’ football
“The Academies at St Bede’s and St Joseph’s will hopefully give us the chance to get
promising young groups of girl footballers together and make sure their football talent is
developed to its fullest potential.”
At today’s official Football Academy launch at St Bede’s, headteacher Fran Craik said: “We
are thrilled to be able to offer girls the same service as we are providing for the boys, with
some of the most highly-qualified football coaches around giving them the same sort of
training you would see at professional football clubs.
“We are fully committed to making St Bede’s a beacon of footballing excellence in East
Durham and can’t wait to get started.
”It’s important to stress that the Academy is open to non-Catholics too – the criteria for being part of the Academy will come down to footballing ability.”
Peter Mitchell, head of St Joseph’s, said: “This will be a great opportunity for talented young
female players in South Tyneside.
“We want to recruit the best young players out there and ensure that their talent is developed
“Both schools will also be ensuring that as well as maximising their chances of one day
becoming professional footballers, they will also receive a first-rate education.”
Simon Robson, director of operations at Improtech Soccer, said: “We’re delighted that the
schools have taken a lead in offering an elite Football Academy for girls.
“There’s so much talent in the area and the passion and enthusiasm for football among
young girls is great to see.
“These academies will capitalise on that and by bringing girls together in talented groups,
we’ll be able to maximise their improvement.”
Anyone interested in taking part in recruitment sessions for the new
Academies can contact the two schools directly or Improtech Soccer’s Director of Football, Steve Golightly on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 07500 690 584.