Footballers earn praise from England U21 boss

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Borough footballers just missed out on a national title – but left with a ringing endorsement from England Under 21 boss Gareth Southgate.

TyneMet faced off against 11 other teams who had each won their regional tournament of the StreetGames Football Pools Fives, held at St George’s Park.

They played in front of Southgate but had spent the weekend also being put through their paces by a host of football stars including England women’s players Sophie Bradley and Rachel Yankey, former England boss Graham Taylor and ex-Wales striker Nathan Blake.

National ambassador for the StreetGames Football Pools Fives, Southgate said: “Commiserations to Tyne Met but they were a very impressive team and I have to say that their ability and determination was absolutely brilliant.

“I’m a big believer in the opportunity that sport can present to young people and this programme is a perfect example.

“Whilst being at St George’s Park is a dream come true for these young finalists, the StreetGames Football Pools Fives programme has managed to engage with young people at events all over the UK and has given them a platform not just to compete but to explore wider opportunities including volunteering and coaching.

“Any programme that builds confidence in young people and gives them a chance to gain new experience gets my vote.”

Natalie Henderson, who played for TyneMet, said: “The whole weekend was an incredible experience and to play at St George’s Park is something that we would never have dreamed we would have the opportunity to do.”

Jane Ashworth OBE, chief executive of StreetGames, said: “It’s fantastic to be here for a second year and really highlights the success of our partnership with The Football Pools.

“This clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when two organisations come together with equal passion and belief in the power of sport to impact the lives of our young people.”

Richard Boardley, director of corporate affairs at Sportech who own the Football Pools, added: “At the Football Pools we’re very proud of our heritage within football and we’re equally as proud to continue our commitment to giving back to communities through our grassroots initiatives.”