From the football pitch to the dancefloor, the ever-growing SSFC Foundation continues to make strives as it aims to increase its impact on the community.
The Foundation held its inaugural dance festival at Mariners Park on Friday, June 28.
The festival came after the Foundation broadened its offering to much of the schools it works with, incorporating dance alongside its existing Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education delivery.
There was also a cultural element to the dance programme – led by coach Karen McKenzie – with children also learning about the heritage of countries where particular dances originated.
It culminated in a showcase at Mariners Park featuring pupils from Sea View Primary School, St Bede’s Primary School and Plains Farm Academy, who performed dances synonymous with the United States of America, France and India.
SSFC Foundation Programme Delivery Lead Nathan Kew said: “It was an absolutely fantastic day and certainly one of the best we’ve had since I’ve been here.
“The reaction we had from parents and teachers was brilliant, and the children seemed to love every minute of it.
“We are interested in anything that puts smiles on faces, and the reaction to the dance programme has shown us that we’ve done the right thing embracing it.
“The more we can offer this community, the better chance this community has of becoming better people and creating better people through the children that we work with.
“That’s what it’s all about.
“We want to have a large, positive impact on our community and working with the schools around us is a good way of doing that.”
Karen McKenzie worked with the children in their schools in the lead-up to the dance festival.
She then led the festival assisted by Nathan, Head of SSFC Foundation Steve Camm and SSFC Foundation apprentice Zak Turner-Cooke.
She said: “First of all, it was just about building their confidence up.
“I like to see the children grow from not necessarily wanting to do anything to hearing the music and building their confidence.
“It’s a nice team building thing as well, so they all encourage each other, which is what I like seeing the most.
“The festival went amazingly well.
“The atmosphere was buzzing and the children worked their socks off for it.
“They thoroughly enjoyed it and relished learning the different aspects of the dances.”
SSFC Foundation’s main activity partner is the Port of Tyne, which is providing financial support for a diverse activity programme that will benefit local people of all ages, with a focus on boosting health and well-being in the area.
Darren Lough has signed for Northern League Division One outfit Hebburn Town on a permanent deal.
Lough joined South Shields in January 2017 after a lengthy spell playing in the Icelandic top flight.
He made 92 appearances during his time with the Mariners, scoring once, and was part of five trophy wins.
The club would like to wholeheartedly thank Darren for his efforts at Mariners Park and wish him all the very best for the future.
Joint manager Graham Fenton said: “After working with Darren for the last three seasons, it’s really sad to see him leave the club.
“We fully respect his decision to want to play more football and feel like he has deserved the opportunity to go to pastures new, because he has represented the club exceptionally well each and every time he has put the shirt on.
“It’s safe to say Darren is one of the most professional players we have ever worked with.
“He kept his standards exceptionally high last season despite not playing as often as he would have liked.
“Hebburn Town have got themselves someone who will be one of the best defenders in the Northern League.
“Darren will be fondly remembered for his huge contribution in the quadruple-winning season and for his magnificent performance at Wembley in the FA Vase final.
“We wish him all the best for his future in the game.”
South Shields have completed the signing of commanding defender Robinson Wokoma.
The Essex-based player joins after completing a spell in the Bostik League with Grays Athletic.
The 18-year-old has been playing at semi-professional level since the age of 15 and is relishing the opportunity of progressing his career with the Mariners – and helping the club push on.
Wokoma said: “I’m very happy to be here.
“I’ve come a long way and have heard that the ambition of the club is to go far, so I’m eager to get started.
“Lee and Graham told me they believe in my ability and said that the ambition of the club is to push on through the leagues, so I’m here to work hard and hopefully help them do that.”
A strong and quick player most adept at playing in the centre of defence, Wokoma impressed Shields joint managers Graham Fenton and Lee Picton in two trial matches earlier this summer.
Wokoma is eager to show the Shields fans what he can do.
He added: “I like to think of myself as a strong, quick, smart defender, and you can expect me to maybe get a few headed goals and be an aerial threat.
“There’s good competition for places here and that’s what we should all relish as players.
“The club has had a lot of success over recent years so it’s a brilliant environment to move into.
“I’ve been raring to go and waiting a week to come over.
“Now I’m here, I’m ready to go.”
After seeing Wokoma in action, Fenton and Picton were eager to seal the defender’s signature as quickly as possible.
Picton believes his potential is huge.
He said: “Without getting too carried away, he has absolutely enormous potential.
“That’s what we’ve identified with him.
“He has got some raw tools that are really exciting, and our job is to develop and nurture those.
“There are no guarantees with anything and we don’t know how things will pan out, but if he is prepared to work hard, he has got a fantastic chance of being an unbelievable centre-back.”