Improtech Soccer at St Bede’s
Sky, BBC and Tyne Tees cameras were drawn to St Bede’s for the announcement of the country’s first all-girls Improtech Soccer Elite Academies at St Bede’s and St Joseph’s in Hebburn.
There was a tremendous amount of media interest in girls getting football academies of their own for the first time.
Alongside that though, there runs the boys elite section and also an innovative development school for players who have potential but need more basic support to progress.
Former Premier League striker and Republic of Ireland international Stephen Elliott has been helping the school to progress its Academy and that has been a big draw for local young talent hoping to emulate him.
But it was natural that the ground-breaking move with the Girl’s Academy would be the main focus of media interest at the launch.
Headteacher Fran Craik said: “We are fully committed to making St Bede’s a beacon of footballing excellence in East Durham.
“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 sort of training you would see at professional football clubs.”
Fran stressed that although St Bede’s is a Catholic school the Academy will be open to non-Catholics too.
“The criteria for being part of the Academy will come down to footballing ability and potential,” she said.
Carlton Fairweather, the former manager of FA Women’s Super League side, Sunderland Ladies, will oversee the development of these and future girl’s academies.
He said: “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 studies.
“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 development.
“The Academy at St Bede’s will 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.”