Junior Black Cats

Inside the Family Zone

by Ashley Houghton

Kids' section a hit with children and parents alike.

Saturday’s visit of Arsenal produced a bumper crowd of 46,402 at the Stadium of Light and the Family Zone was also packed to the rafters.

Kids of all ages took part in fun activities across the Zone in the south east corner of the stadium, allowing their parents time to relax ahead of kick-off.

The state-of-the-art interactive football facilities, including PS3’s, virtual projected football and the Black Cats penalty shoot-out excited all young Sunderland fans ahead of the game, whilst parents were delighted with the opportunity for their children.

Mark Smith from Washington was with his seven-year-old son Callum at Saturday’s game and he was thrilled his son could enjoy the day further.

He said: “It’s a great idea; sometimes he gets a bit bored before games so this is ideal and he absolutely loves it.”

Similarly, Ian Richardson and his son, Jack, from Houghton-le-Spring, are regulars at the SoL and Ian enjoyed his first time in the Family Zone.

“It’s my first time in the Family Zone and it’s great - I’ll certainly be coming back,” he added.

“Normally my lad gets bored before games because we come early to avoid the traffic, he’s not bored today though, there’s so much for him to do.”

Sunderland’s marketing manager, Verity Dodd, is delighted by the increased popularity of the Family Zone and believes it is a further indication of the club’s desire to attract youngsters and their families to the Stadium of Light.

She said: “It's really important that we nurture our fans of the future feel and ensure that they feel welcome at the Stadium of Light. We wanted to create an area within the stadium where our junior supporters can come and enjoy more than just the 90 minutes of football.

“It’s a fun environment for all the kids from an hour-and-a-half before kick-off,” she added.

“The fact it’s becoming increasing popular shows that there’s a real appetite for families to come to the matches together and we hope by the start of next season even more young Black Cats will be joining us.”