Young footballers from a school in Whitley Bay are celebrating after winning a major junior football tournament.
Valley Gardens Middle School were crowned national champions at the Danone Nations Cup, the world’s biggest football tournament for ten to 12-year-olds, which is headed up by former World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane.
They successfully progressed from the county knockout rounds of the tournament earlier this year, earning them a top spot at the regional final, which resulted in a place at the national finals held at Bodymoor Heath, Aston Villa’s training ground.
And they impressed in the school teams category by successfully beating Lyndhurst Junior School 3-0 in the final.
Former Tottenham, Liverpool and England centre back John Scales, an ambassador of the tournament, said: “I would like to congratulate Valley Gardens Middle School on being crowned national champions, they put in a stellar performance.
“The Danone Nations Cup aims to inspire, educate and motivate all those that it touches.
“It’s a truly remarkable project that brings joy to thousands of kids nationally.”
Charlotte Broos, CSR manager at Danone, said: “Congratulations to Valley Gardens Middle School who played brilliantly at the national finals.
“I’m sure the Premier League surroundings made being crowned national champions even more special.
“The Danone Nations Cup is a project that not only brings the joy of football to thousands of children, but also promotes healthy eating and living, which is key to any champion’s success.”
The Danone Nations Cup is a unique FIFA approved tournament which has been given the government’s ‘Inspired by 2012’ seal of approval and represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for young players.
It is an annual highlight in Danone’s ongoing programme of support for healthy lifestyles through education, fun and fair play, which includes its ‘Eat Like A Champ’ healthy eating initiative.
Each year, 2.5m children world-wide take part in the competition, which has former France and Real Madrid captain Zinedine Zidane as international ambassador.
More than 3,000 schools compete in the English leg, run by the English Schools’ Football Association.
Not only is the tournament endorsed and supported by great ambassadors, the level of football is also high and many players go on to have successful professional careers.
Previous participants include Manchester United and England centre back Phil Jones, QPR winger Junior Hoilett, recent Tottenham signing Erik Lamela and Aston Villa’s Andreas Weimann, who played in the Danone Nations Cup in Austria.