Timothèe Pembélé, Adil Aouchiche, and Abdoullah Ba made some days by getting involved with Holiday Courses at the Beacon of Light.
From the Player Development Centre to international football - Niamh Boothroyd's journey so far
Niamh Boothroyd’s footballing journey has taken her from the Foundation of Light’s Player Development Centre to representing her country in UEFA competition.
On National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which has been observed in the United States since 1987, Niamh’s story is one that can inspire budding young sports stars across our region.
The 16-year-old forward first joined the Foundation’s Player Development Programme as an Under-13. With her showing clear signs of high potential, she was quickly challenged to play in higher age groups, training with U15 and U16 teams.
Access to high-level coaching and a more challenging environment developed both her football skills and confidence. After just 12 months in the programme, Niamh successfully trialled for the Regional Talent Club (now Emerging Talent Centre).
While with the RTC, the young star experienced national representation for the first time, turning out for English Schools FA at U15 level. Her list of achievements kept growing when she was part of the Sunderland side that won the U16 FA Youth Plate, which they celebrated with a lap of the Stadium of Light.
Niamh has continued to go from strength-to-strength, the next step of her journey was a successful trial for the new Professional Game Academy ahead of the current season, joining the Sunderland AFC Women U21 and U23 teams at just 16.
In November, Niamh made her international debut at U17 level, playing for Northern Ireland in three European Women’s U17 Championship qualifying matches.
On the Foundation’s role in her development, Niamh said: “The Foundation was a step up from grassroots football.
“My technical ability and confidence as a player improved. The coaches were supportive and led challenging and enjoyable training sessions.”
“We’re really proud of the progress Niamh has made over the last four years,” added Jack Gray, Football in the Community Coordinator at the Foundation of Light.
“Niamh's development from attending our PDC to now representing her country in a European competition shows how strong the girls football pathway is at the Foundation of Light, and that should players work hard and commit, that anything is possible.
“Niamh is currently reaping the rewards of an excellent attitude, and a strong support network provided by her family and the staff at the Foundation of Light and Sunderland AFC.”
Foundation of Light is offering Sunderland AFC fans the chance to win some special prizes ahead of Foundation of Light Day.
When the Black Cats host QPR at the Stadium of Light next month, the club will host Foundation of Light Day, the biggest fundraising event of the calendar, to support the work of the Foundation of Light.