Steve Bruce supports club charity with surprise community visit
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce went back to his roots in the city's East End on Wednesday evening to visit a community coaching session delivered by the club's official charity, Newcastle United Foundation.
On a visit to Walker Activity Dome, just a mile from where he was raised, Bruce met children and teenagers from the club's Cerebral Palsy disability football team, who were taking part in free football session as part the Premier League's flagship Kicks programme.
Under Premier League Kicks, Newcastle United Foundation provides local players aged five to 16 with free professional disability football coaching, with funding support from the Premier League, BBC Children in Need, Sport England, Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council and People's Postcode Lottery.
Just this week, the Premier League renewed its funding commitment for a further three years.
The Cerebral Palsy team is one of eight disability football teams that Newcastle United Foundation operates in the North East, alongside Amputee, Blind, Deaf, Down’s Syndrome, Frame, Partially Sighted and Power Chair squads.
As the official independent charity of Newcastle United, the Foundation now works with 58,000 people in the region each year - including more than 1,300 adults and children on its disability programme.
Steve Bruce said: "The Foundation does a wonderful job in the community and it's great to come down and see what the staff do at close quarters, particularly in a part of Newcastle which means so much to me.
"Kids here haven't always had the right opportunities at the right time, but the Foundation is helping to change that through programmes like Premier League Kicks.
"In a city like ours, where people live and breathe football, giving kids support, opportunities and a bit of encouragement to play is vitally important. They seemed to love the session and it's great to see."
The session was taken by Newcastle United Foundation disability football development officer, Mark Daglish, who has been at the heart of the charity's work to make football truly accessible for all.
The Foundation's disability provision has grown from two after-school clubs and four Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools in 2011, to now working in more than 44 SEN schools and 25 coaching centres for both adults and children.
Mark Daglish said: "Our disability programme has gone from strength to strength and it's been a great opportunity to show Steve what our training sessions are all about.
"He's been really interested in getting to know how different disability games are and understanding how our approach to coaching has to be adjusted to suit the needs of all our players."
He added: "Everyone here is incredibly proud to represent the club they've grown up with and to have that Newcastle United badge on their chest. For them to be playing in front of the first team's head coach is just the icing on the cake.
"Thank you to Steve for taking the time to come and visit one of our sessions to see what we're doing in the community. It's been a fantastic night for everyone involved."
With Premier League Kicks now incorporating more disability provision, the next three years of the programme will also see more targeted sessions for young people requiring extra support.
Premier League Executive Director Bill Bush said: "The Premier League Kicks programme has been running successful through our clubs and many across the EFL for 13 years.
"To show our commitment to young people and communities, we are investing further to ensure its continuation for another three years, until 2020.
"Twenty per cent of current Premier League Kicks staff are former participants or volunteers, which goes to show how a long-term commitment can provide support and pathways for young people to better themselves, in turn allowing them to be a positive influence to others growing up in their community."
Newcastle United Foundation offers a wide range of free disability football coaching across the region. For more information, or to find out how you can support the charity, please visit nufoundation.org.uk.