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Under-23 and under-18 players coaching Special Olympics footballers from Tyneside

Newcastle United's Academy has announced an innovative community project which will see its under-18 and under-23 players coaching and interacting with Special Olympics footballers from Tyneside.

The project, launched earlier this month, is being run in conjunction with Gateshead Council and the School of Psychology at Newcastle University, and will see United's Academy players working with the players, all aged 20-50, focussing on technical, tactical, physical and psychological areas of the game.

Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organisation for children and adults with a learning disability and the sessions will further develop the latent talent that exists in the region.

The programme will not only develop the skills of the players, but will add to the learning experience and life skills of the Academy players through peer-peer learning.

Taking Inspiration from Coerver Coaching's Mike Smith and his 'Big Ideas in Sport', the first training camp was successfully staged at the Newcastle United Academy on Tuesday 11th September with monthly sessions being programmed right through until April 2019.

Fifteen Special Olympians - players with a learning disability - attended the first session, with feedback from the session being taken on-board with a view to enhancing the experience for all concerned in the months ahead.

Academy Manager Joe Joyce said: "This is a very exciting initiative which Newcastle United Football Academy is delighted to be leading.

"It's a win-win situation for us in that it will benefit the footballers we are welcoming to our Academy whilst at the same time providing our young players with a whole range of new opportunities to learn, develop themselves as human beings and to contribute hugely to the local community."

Councillor Michael McNestry, Gateshead Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care added: "It's fantastic that we're able to link up with a professional football club to develop this most ambitious of programmes.

"The dream of many of our Special Olympics footballers would be for to play for Newcastle United and therefore, the mentoring that they will receive from the Newcastle United Academy is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them.

"They are absolutely honoured to have a chance to develop their footballing skills and self-confidence."

Special Olympics GB Interim CEO Michelle Carney added: "We are thrilled with this partnership and are confident it will provide incredible benefits to all parties involved.

"This is an amazing example of inclusion and collaboration which will benefit Special Olympics athletes and young people with learning disabilities across the region."

"The dream of many of our Special Olympics footballers would be for to play for Newcastle United and therefore, the mentoring that they will receive from the Newcastle United Academy is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them."

Councillor Michael McNestry

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