South Shields focus on Class of 2023 for Project EFL

South Shields first-team players Blair Adams, Carl Finnigan, Daniel Wright and Ursene Mouanda are to help lead a new programme which will see the club visit schools across the borough on a regular basis.

The club's aim is to be a community-based, sustainable Football League-ready club by 2023.

It's an ambitious target encapsulated by Project EFL, which Shields are hoping the community will get behind in the weeks, months and years ahead.

At the centre of their ambitions is their fanbase, which they are hoping to grow by forging partnerships with schools.

They are on the lookout for our fans of the future and are currently focusing on the 'class of 2023'.

The club will soon be visiting primary schools across South Tyneside, and during visits the players will hand out free match tickets to pupils in Year 5 and Year 6, who will be of age to be the club's 12th man by the time they are hopefully Football League ready in 2023.

The schools programme is being led by the club in conjunction with its charitable foundation, and was launched early this week with a visit to Westoe Crown Primary School.

The club is also pleased to announce an exciting partnership with The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, which is based in Market Place, South Shields.

The two organisations are set to work together to introduce a literacy project for young people based on a matchday experience.

Of those Year 5 and Year 6 pupils who receive free match tickets, each school will select 10 children to form a guard of honour for the two teams on matchday.

Five of those 10 will be chosen to take part in a media workshop delivered by The Word, where they will record and capture their matchday experience.

South Shields FC Foundation Manager Steve Camm said: "We are all really excited about the opportunity to grow the work we do in schools.

"It's great as a club for us to be able to put something back into our community, in fact it's one of the underlying principles behind both Project EFL and the Foundation.

"The Word is an amazing facility and we are delighted to have been able to put something together collectively that will create not only a fantastic matchday experience but also a great learning opportunity for young people."

Tania Robinson, Head of Marketing and Culture at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, said: “We are delighted to be working with South Shields Football Club as we are always looking for new ways to celebrate the written word.

“This project, which gives young fans and their families the chance to commentate on the match, write a report and then film in The Word’s media studio, is part of our wider programme of work, sponsored by Mirabaud, to engage with young people in the borough.

“Football commentaries and reports bring matches to life for those who weren’t lucky enough to be there – they tell a story and that’s what we celebrate at The Word.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the fans and their families and showing them the varied and fascinating facilities The Word has to offer.”

All children who receive free match tickets will also be given the opportunity to take part in the club's Matchday Play Park - a supervised football session - which takes place between 1.30pm and 2.30pm on the day of every Saturday match at Mariners Park.

Where next?

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