Latest News

See below for the latest news and any details on upcoming courses & events we are running.

Sunderland College football academy celebrates hat-trick of successes

Champions! Sunderland College’s league winning men’s first team.

SUNDERLAND College’s Improtech Soccer football academy has notched a hat-trick of successes – on and off the pitch.

Not only has it won prestigious national recognition in a ground-breaking new team but both men and women’s football teams have won league titles  

Off the pitch, the College has been announced as an Association of Colleges (AoC) football Super Hub, in partnership with the FA, underlining the College’s commitment to sporting excellence.

The College will join an elite network of only 22 football Super Hub colleges across the country demonstrating excellence and innovation within football and futsal in the further education sector.

Over the next two academic years, these high performing colleges will showcase their strengths, act as a football development advisory group, be at the forefront of new FA products and initiatives, and receive additional funding to further support the development of the game.

John Rushworth, faculty director for Sport, Health and Wellbeing at Sunderland College, said: Our students and staff will benefit from the exceptional opportunities that this status brings as we strive for continuous improvement.

“We are exceptionally proud of our men and women’s Football Development Centres at Sunderland College and our Super Hub status further supports our football and academic ambitions for our student athletes.”

Meanwhile, on the pitch, the women’s football team at Sunderland College has been crowned North East Colleges Champions in the futsal league.

They were unbeaten in all of their qualifying games and defeated New College Durham in the final 4-1.

Sixteen- year old Sunderland College student Abigail Phipps from Washington, who scored a hat trick in the final, said: “The futsal league allowed us to continue to perform and develop our skills and fitness throughout the winter period. 

“The team all performed extremely well over the season and to score a hat trick in the final was a great achievement for me personally.   This has given me a massive confidence boost to take my new-found skills out onto the football pitch.”

The futsal league was introduced by Durham FA and the North East College League to minimise disruption to the women’s league in winter months and provide an opportunity to develop new skills.

Continuing the winning streak, the men’s first team at Sunderland College has been celebrating gaining the North East College Premiership League champions title, following their thrilling 4-0 win against Gateshead College.

The College’s successful men’s and women’s Football Development Centres, in association with Improtech Soccer, enables talented players to combine full-time studies with elite coaching and competitive play.

For more information about sports courses and the Sport Development Centres at Sunderland College, email, ring 0191 511 6000 or get in touch with us using the email form on the Contact Us page.

Here Come The Girls! New football academies launch in Peterlee and Hebburn

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.

Launch of Academy, at St Bedes RC 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.

Carlton Fairweather talks to Sky Sports News

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.”

Head of St Bede’s Fran Craik

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

and nurtured.

“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 or ring 07500 690 584.

Lee Clark launches new elite Football Academy at Walker Riverside School, Newcastle

The new Football Academy at Walker Riverside

LOCAL hero Lee Clark says talented young Tyneside footballers have a golden opportunity to thanks to the launch of an elite Football Academy in a Tyneside school.

Walker Riverside Academy has teamed up with Improtech Soccer – the leading provider of Football in Education in England – to provide elite coaching for talented prospects during school hours.

And former Magpie midfielder Clark, who grew up just a few hundred yards away from the school, said: “I wish there had been something like this when I was a lad – the chance to focus on and develop your football skills inside school – how great is that?

“For young players across Tyneside  dreaming of one day becoming a professional footballer, there will now be the chance to chase that dream at school with professional football coaching while also getting an education.”

Ex-Newcastle United star Lee Clark a big fan of the new Academy

Improtech training is devised to UEFA Pro Licence standard – the highest level of coaching in the game – with hundreds of sessions which emphasise individual improvement and team understanding.

The company has an excellent track record of developing young players to the level where they are taken on by professional football clubs including Newcastle United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, Hull City and a host of non-league clubs.

The Walker Academy is currently recruiting players who will be Year 7s in the 2019-20 academic year.

Clark was born in Walker, a tough, working-class area of Newcastle where opportunities used to be few and far between.

But he says he is impressed with the Academy and delighted it will now become a centre for footballing excellence.

A youth star who became a regular in the Keegan era and went on played more than 200 games for the club, scoring 24 goals, Lee said: “Newcastle and the North East has always been a hotbed of football, and Academies like this will help make the most of that talent.

“It’s good for the area, it’s good for the city but most of all it’s good for the young players who have this opportunity.

”The North East has always been a place where good young players emerge, but I think we could get even more players coming through with football academies of this quality.

“It can only improve the chances of young players from the city making the most of their game.”

Sam Greenwood signs for Arsenal

DEDICATED Improtech Soccer student Sam Greenwood has signed a five-year deal with Premier League giants Arsenal.

The 16-year-old from Murton, a long-time member of the academy at Sunderland AFC,  had a chance of a two-year scholarship at the Stadium of Light but turned it down.

And once word got out he was leaving Sunderland there was a queue of domestic clubs – including Liverpool and Man United – interested in his signature, while abroad,  German side Stuttgart led the chase.

But Sam eventually decided Arsenal were the club where his long-term future would lie, announcing on his Instagram account: “Today is the start of a new chapter in my life signing for Arsenal and I can’t wait to get started. “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“Leaving Sunderland after 10 years at the club I love and support was a very hard decision, I have met some special people along the way.

“Big thanks to all coaches past and present for everything they have done for me . I will never forget my roots.”

A natural attacker, Sam came to Improtech Soccer sessions from the age of eight.

From the age of 10 he would come to sessions an hour early and practice his set-piece work.

Improtech coach Stuart Brand said: “Sam has got many strengths – he has goal-scoring ability and a good passing range but he also has quality on the ball, touch, is strong with both feet and has a hunger to improve.”

The Monkwearmouth School pupil has played for England numerous times at different levels and is currently playing for England Under 16s. 

Sam trained throughout June alongside Improtech’s very first student, Sunderland AFC first-team squad member Ethan Robson, but the teenager’s future now lies at the Emirates rather than the Stadium of Light.

Improtech Soccer managing director Martin Scott said: “I’m absolutely delighted for Sam – what an achievement it is to sign a long-term contract with one of the most famous names in world football!.

“It is well-deserved because I’ve coached Sam for many years and can testify to the fact that he works as hard as he possibly can at his game.

“He’s very dedicated to his dream and of course, as we always say, you need dedication as well as talent to succeed in professional football.

“Congratulation to Sam and his family from everyone at Improtech Soccer.”

Ex-SAFC striker to coach at new Improtech Academy in Peterlee

SCHOOL children in Peterlee will get the chance to be coached by former Sunderland star Stephen Elliott with the opening of a new elite football academy at St Bede’s Comprehensive School later this year.

The former striker, whose goals helped fire the Black Cats into the Premier League in the 2004-05 season has taken on the role of lead coach at the new Improtech Soccer academy which will be launched at the school next term.

And that will be great news for talented young players in Peterlee and East Durham who will get expert coaching in school time as they pursue dreams of becoming professional footballers.

The new centre will join other centres of excellence at Kepier Academy, Houghton, English Martyrs School, Hartlepool and Sunderland College.

Improtech’s Martin Scott said: “We’re thrilled to be at St Bede’s and a part of the world well-known for being a hotbed of football talent.

“We’re starting late in the day this year, with the window very narrow for recruitment for September 2018 but in the next few years we plan to make St Bedes as successful as our other centres are.

New coach Stephen Elliott said: “I’m delighted that from September I’ll be coaching young players of real ability who I’ll be able to pass on my skills and knowledge to within a school environment.

“I’m really looking forward to it.

“I had a great time as a footballer at Sunderland Football Club and I’d love to think that a few Improtech players from St Bedes might follow me on to professional clubs in the years ahead.”
Mark Price, head of school at St Bedes, said: “This is a really exciting venture for the school.

“We loved the fact that not only are we getting the best football coaching provider but that this is something which is healthy and enjoyable for the school children to be involved in.”

Mr Price stressed that although St Bedes is a Catholic school, the school and the new Football Academy, is open to children of all faiths and religions.

Recruitment and open trials for players in current Year Six who go into Year Seven in September is ongoing.

And anyone interested in attending sessions or wanting more information, should contact Simon Robson on 07717  707 952 or Steve Golightly on 07500 690 584, or email or