Enthusiastic youngsters marked themselves as media stars of the future as a new partnership between South Shields Football Club and The Word kicked off.
They were among about 150 children from the two schools who attended the Mariners’ game against Mickleover Sports earlier this month.
The lucky 11 were then invited to attend a media workshop at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word to record and capture their matchday experience.
The workshop was led by artist James Whitman, who was helped by South Shields defender Blair Adams – who has a degree in sports journalism – club media officer Daniel Prince and Foundation manager Steve Camm.
Adams said: “I was really impressed with all of the children and there are definitely some reporters of the future among the group.
“They did a fantastic job working in a live studio at The Word, first writing a match report before then reading it out on camera.
“I know how difficult that sort of thing is as I did a lot of it while studying for my degree, so the children did really well.
“They were also excellently behaved and were a credit to their schools.
“It was a great way to begin this partnership.”
The Year 5 and Year 6 pupils split into four groups, with St Bede’s represented by Ryan Shabani, Riley Bell, Lucas Britton, Will Watson and Jude Hill.
Westoe Crown’s pupils were Lillie Oliphant, Molly Jewitt, Penny Simpson, Matthew Bennett, Isaac Cave and Tom Hobson.
Tania Robinson, head of marketing and culture at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, said: “We’re delighted that The Word has been able to play a part in this exciting venture, which has hopefully fuelled young people’s interest in literacy by sharing their sporting experience.
“This is a very exciting partnership with South Shields Football Club which hopefully will continue to grow and it has also put a spotlight on the fantastic facilities we have at The Word, including the media studio run by OpenZone and the support we received from the library service along with the sponsorship from Mirabaud.
“All of this contributed to a really memorable day for everyone involved.”
Westoe Crown and St Bede’s were the first two schools to take part in South Shields Football Club’s new schools programme.
This week, they have been to Sea View Primary School and Stanhope Primary School as they continue to recruit the ‘Class of 2023′ – youngsters they hope will be the 12th man by the time they turn 16 and the club is, as it aims to be, Football League-ready in five years’ time.
The Sea View and Stanhope pupils will attend Saturday’s game against Matlock Town at Mariners Park before a number of them will be selected to attend the same media workshop.
South Shields players Blair Adams, Daniel Wright and Ursene Mouanda went back to school on Monday as they launched a new programme which will see the club engage more with its youngest supporters.
The trio were joined by SSFC Foundation manager Steve Camm as they visited Westoe Crown Primary School to answer questions from pupils and hand out tickets for Saturday’s game against Mickleover Sports at Mariners Park.
They also presented the school with a signed home shirt which will either be put on display at Westoe Crown or be auctioned to raise school funds.
This was the club’s first school visit and was a particularly poignant one, as avid Shields supporter Jak Fada – who tragically died a year ago at the age of 10 – attended Westoe Crown.
About 180 Year 5 and Year 6 pupils talked with the players for almost an hour as they asked a wide range of questions.
Blair said: “There were some interesting questions and some you really had to think about.
“We covered all areas, from what we’d want to do if we weren’t footballers to the best teams we’ve played against.
“It’s always good to go into places like that and for the children to be able to speak with us.
“We want to try to build our fanbase.
“We all know the targets the club has over the next few years.
“We want to keep pushing up the leagues, and coming in to see the children is the start of us trying to grow our fanbase.”
Each Year 5 and Year 6 pupil at the school received a free ticket for Saturday’s match against Mickleover, as well as one for a parent or guardian.
They have all been invited to take part in the club’s Matchday Play Park, which takes place on the 3G pitch at 1.30pm on the day of each Saturday home game, while 10 of them will walk onto the pitch with the teams ahead of the match and five of them will take part in a literacy project with The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, based on their matchday experience.
Daniel Wright said: “We came along to hand out tickets and talk to the pupils, because it would be great to have a lot more younger people at the games.
“Hopefully it will boost our crowds on Saturdays.
“There were some funny questions which got you thinking and we all really enjoyed it.
“It’s important we get more and more younger fans at the games, because it will build our crowds massively.”
Ursene said: “We came in to have a little talk to the children and try to encourage them to come along to our games.
“I really enjoyed it.
“A lot of the kids were quite sharp and funny, and there were some very good questions.
“I’ve not been in a primary school since I left, so it was good to go back to one and it brought back a lot of memories.
“It’s really important we put on a good performance on Saturday so the children have a good experience and want to come back week after week.”
The club’s second school visit will see them go to St Bede’s RC Primary and Nursery School on Wednesday.
Picture caption: Players Ursene Mouanda, Daniel Wright and Blair Adams present a signed South Shields shirt to Westoe Crown football team captains Jay Brown and Lillie Oliphant, along with PE co-ordinator and Year 6 teacher Kate Bramley.