Davide Santon

Italian international Davide Santon has been casting an eye over Tyneside's young footballing talent as part of the Newcastle United Foundation's Holiday Soccer Schools.

The Newcastle United defender was at the Goals Newcastle site in Gosforth on Thursday afternoon, to meet youngsters and join in with their coaching session, which included fun games, skill challenges and small-sided matches.

As well as honing the skills of almost 350 children over Easter, the Soccer Schools - which take place every half term across the Tyneside, County Durham and Northumberland - also focus on the importance of respect, fair play, anti-bullying and discipline across all levels of the game, with sessions taken by qualified coaches.

"I remember how much I enjoyed playing football when I was growing up so it's good to see the children here doing the same," explained Santon.

"There are some very good players in the city so it's very important that the Newcastle United Foundation is helping them to play the game in this way. Hopefully one day some of them will be playing for Newcastle at St. James' Park."

Neil Winskill, head of football development at Newcastle United Foundation, said: "The whole ethos behind our Soccer Schools is to ensure children have a lot of fun playing the game in a safe environment.

"We have children aged from five through to 16, all with different abilities but all with a real passion for football.

"Davide's visit is a real highlight for them and something they'll remember for a very long time. It's fantastic to see the group enjoying learning about the game so much."

Plans for the Foundation's summer holiday programme are already planned and will run across the entire six-week school break. More information will be released in the coming weeks.

To find out more about the Newcastle United Foundation and how to sign up to Soccer Schools, visit www.nufc.co.uk/foundation or email foundation@nufc.co.uk.