Sunderland star surprises young pupils
As part of the EFL Week of Action, the Foundation of Light welcomed pupils from Dame Dorothy Primary School to the Beacon of Light on Tuesday where they were treated to a surprise visit from a special guest.
Sunderland AFC goalkeeper, Ron-Thorben Hoffmann, joined the children as part of the Foundation’s Coals to Goals programme, which aims to engage children in learning about Sunderland’s rich mining and football history.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will deliver a three-year programme of events and activities to support improved life outcomes for thousands of people across the region as well as those in some of the most deprived areas of England.
Thorben took part in various activities, joining in a workshop on what it was like to work in the pit, a Q & A session and also a walk around the Stadium, where the children learned new facts about the Stadium of Light and Stadium Park.
Dame Dorothy pupils weren’t the only ones to learn new things, as Thorben revealed he learned a thing or two. He said: “I wasn’t aware the stadium was built on an old mining site. It is good to work with young kids especially at a young age where they have to learn about the history of the city. I learned some new things as well so it was good for me.
“It’s important for them to know about the history about where they are living and the information they got today from the Foundation was really good. I am so honoured to play for such a big club with a big history.”
The German shot stopper was also put in the firing line by the children, where he talked about his biggest achievements in football, why he came to Sunderland and discussed his encounters with some of the giants of the game, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Black Cats mascot Samson also made an appearance much to the excitement of the children, who were already on cloud nine having met Thorben. Year 4 pupil Charles Halliday, nine, said: “It was pretty cool to meet Thorben and I asked him about his biggest match. We’ve been learning about the city’s heritage and the fact the stadium is built on an old mine.”
The session was led by former Wearmouth Colliery Miner Alan Mardghum, who worked in the pits from 1977 to 1993. Alan said: “It’s vital children learn about the city’s past as it’s their history and heritage. These children and even some of their parents won’t remember this site was once a pit and will now just know it as the Stadium of Light.”
As part of the club’s EFL Week of Action activity, Sunderland head coach Alex Neil also spoke to the Senior Supporters’ Association before club historian Rob Mason spoke at length about the history and heritage of the football club and links to mining heritage.
Find out more about the Foundation’s Coals to Goals programme.