John Spence girls represent Newcastle in derby match

The two teams who competed in the seven-a-side game.
The two teams who competed in the seven-a-side game.

Girls from John Spence Community High School in North Shields represented Newcastle United Foundation against Biddick College in Sunderland in a seven-a-side football match.

The game was organised as part of the FA Women & Girls programme and Building Bridges, supported by Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner in the build-up to this weekend’s Tyne and Wear derby at St James’ Park.

The commissioner, who has lent her support to the initiative, said: “I’m a huge supporter of the work of Newcastle United Foundation and the Foundation of Light and I’m delighted their work is encouraging more girls to play football.

“It offers a great opportunity and I’ve no doubt some of the girls will now be taking more interest in playing football.

“The training sessions may have created a future member of Newcastle United or Sunderland women’s football teams.”

The girls are all aged 13 to 16 and attend a weekly football club at their school, thanks to funding from the FA and Premier League.

None had played football before joining the programme in September 2014 and are improving week on week.

Marc Burnip, PE teacher at John Spence, said: “It is a great honour for our girls to represent Newcastle United in the Tyne and Wear derby fixture against Sunderland.

“The girls are extremely happy to be wearing the famous black and white stripes and I am very proud of them.

“A massive thank you to Liam from Newcastle United Foundation who has been delivering the weekly girls only football sessions.”

Shelly Brogden, who attends John Spence and played in the game, said: “It was great to play against Sunderland, the weather was awful but everyone gave 100 per cent and enjoyed the occasion.”

Lisa Bell, project co-ordinator at the foundation, added: “The game was played in a great spirit with both teams embracing the occasion in the build-up to the Tyne and Wear Derby.”