Foundation of Light and Newcastle United foundation in 'Building Bridges' tournament.
60 young people representing Newcastle United and SAFC held their own ‘Derby Day’ fixture last Saturday.
The young people, all aged 15 to 17, were playing in a ‘Building Bridges’ tournament at Walker Activity Dome in Newcastle, backed by the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird. The project is helping to tackle crime and anti social behaviour between young fans.
In the eight-team tournament, players from Newcastle United Foundation and the Foundation of Light Kicks projects went head to head in a round robin format, officiated by Community Support Officers from Northumbria Police. The second half of the competition saw players from both sides join up to create mixed teams of Newcastle and Sunderland young people.
‘Building Bridges’ kicked off in early January and the tournament is just one of many workshops, activities and fixtures that will bring young people from Tyneside and Wearside together over the coming months.
Other activities will include visits to both the Stadium of Light and St James' Park and a series of classroom based activities in local schools. Throughout the project they will be discussing youth crime, disorder and ASB focusing on football related rivalries between the two teams.
The whole project has been made possible by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird who gave £20,000 from her Community Safety Fund towards it at the end of last year.
The Commissioner said: "I was delighted to support this valuable project which gives youngsters the opportunity to meet others who may support a different local team.
"Using football to explore and discuss issues that effects local communities is a great way to engage young people. Both clubs have worked hard on delivering a first class learning programme and I am grateful for their continued support.
"These young people are setting an excellent example to all football fans in the lead up to this weekend's Derby Day fixture."
Steve Mack, senior project coordinator at Newcastle United Foundation:
“Young people from both Newcastle and Sunderland have embraced the true spirit of the game in this project so far. They have shown respect for authority and for each other and are positive role models for other young people across the region.”
Ev Ripley-Day, Foundation of Light Head of Raising Standards comments:
“We’re delighted to be involved in such a progressive programme using the local derby as a tool to engage young people in learning and sporting activity which will have a real impact on their lives. All of the teenagers taking part have really taken on board the spirit of the programme and are an asset to their football clubs and the region as a whole.”Building Bridges in Tyne and wear is part of Kicks, a national initiative, supported by the Premier League, which works towards creating stronger, more respectful communities thorough football.