Durham Women FC and Bede Sixth Form are toasting success this week – after the duo’s Women’s Football Academy lifted the league title.
The Wildcats and Bede Sixth Form work in partnership to deliver a dual-career academy to players in the Tees Valley region, allowing aspiring footballers to combine their playing ambitions with studying for a range of qualifications.
And having been launched in September 2019, the academy has continued to go from strength-to-strength – culminating in this title success.
The Women’s Football Academy side have been crowned as winners of the North East College’s League for the first time after winning nine of their ten games this season.
It was a fantastic record, and one which was hailed by coach Graeme Clark.
“It’s a great achievement,” he said.
“It’s obviously been a tough year for everybody and to have some sort of normality of kicking a football, it just breaks up the monotony of what’s happening.
“One of the girls from the squad has got a triple distinction and has got a place at Durham University – and to play the football and commit to their studies, while everything else is going on, they all deserve praise as it’s unbelievable.
When asked for his highlights of the title-winning season, Clark said: “The key two games were against Gateshead.
“We went up there and had one or two unavailable and it was a little bit of an unknown going into a different part of a region.
“We lost the game 1-0 and that was our first game, but the reverse fixture we put nine past them.
“The really good thing was that the boys game was off and they were watching the sidelines, and so were some of the tutors, and they were all really impressed.”
Bede Sixth Form principal Ben Robinson is delighted to have seen the partnership between the club and the educational institution flourish in recent years – with on and off-field progress made.
“It’s great to see girls of all levels being supported in their own progress and development,” he said.
“The partnership is unique to the Tees-Valley as it provides a pathways right through to the highest level of women’s football within the region.
“Student experience and wellbeing are the highest priorities and we have seen the programme contribute in multiple ways to the girls success and progression, including gaining places at competitive higher education institutions and International scholarships.”
When asked about his hopes for the future of the partnership between Bede Sixth Form and Durham Women, Robinson added: “That we will support a greater number of players in their educational and footballing aspirations and continue to use the partnership to ensure the progress, wellbeing and development of female footballers across the Tees-Valley.”