On Monday evening, Sunderland Women held an open training session on Seaburn beach which invited fans to join the squad in their drills and preseason prep.
It was a chance for fans to meet their heroes and get to know the squad outside of the matchday experience, swapping the professional occasion for something more informal and fun for all involved.
In a modern footballing world, where money talks and everything becomes a business, Sunderland Women continue to respect the ever-loyal and passionate Mackem fanbase, and continue to illustrate their human side too.
What an inspiration, Rubie!— Sunderland AFC Women (@SAFCWomen) July 12, 2022
The brave youngster, who lives with Spina Bifida, showed off her skills with Steph and the Lasses last night #SAFCWomen | Kasey Taylor pic.twitter.com/tZvbp7Fs8h
The idea behind the community outreach session was to help promote Sunderland Women before the commencement of the 22/23 season. With the Women’s Euros well underway, there is no better time than now for the club to promote the women’s team and help build pride and interest in the Lasses side.
But it was also an opportunity for marketing - conducting the open training session was part of a drive to encourage families to purchase Eppleton CW Season Cards to support Sunderland Women and Sunderland Men’s U23s, in addition to those who’ve purchased 2022-23 Stadium of Light season card which also gives access to all the games at Eppleton.
The training got underway at 6:15pm on the beach, with a great turnout out of Sunderland Women senior players, Sunderland RTC players, potential new Sunderland U23’s players, and of course the fans. Led by assistant coach Steph Libbey, the seniors and the other coaching staff met the fans, introduced the kids to the drills, and got everyone involved.
The main part was encouraging everyone - girls and boys, whatever their ability - to have fun playing football!
Ball work drills with plenty of our fans!— Sunderland AFC Women (@SAFCWomen) July 11, 2022
The next generation…? #SAFCWomen | @stackseaburn pic.twitter.com/t6i6RNKKR3
After the training was over, Sunderland Women invited those who took part in the training to join them at the STACK Seaburn for a meet and greet and to watch England Lionesses as they took on Norway in their second group stage game of the Women's Euros.
It would be a night to remember, as fans were treated to an emphatic, energetic and entertaining display by the national team, and witnessed ex-Sunderland Women’s player, Beth Mead, score a hat-trick and have a vital part in the impressive team performance.
They also watched a player who many of our own Lasses are inspired by when they were younger and yet another talent who started her senior career at Sunderland, right-back Lucy Bronze, who dominated the wings and execute some beautiful crosses. And of course, in the closing stages they saw midfielder Jill Scott, a Sunderland AFC Hall of Fame inductee, coming on as a late substitution to replace Georgia Stanway.
A special thanks to So Smooth Co. for sorting our Lasses and RTC girls out at @stackseaburn last night!#SAFCWomen | @SunderlandRTC pic.twitter.com/V3XVhG0nT7— Sunderland AFC Women (@SAFCWomen) July 12, 2022
The initiative was a positive one in every regard. Beautiful weather, a high turnout, and the chance to play with their heroes and watch a grand display of football on the big screen. For those kids, dreams that they too can become a footballer or have a career in football will now seem more real.
They only need to look to the likes of Neve Herron, Libbi McInnes and Grace Ede, who all play for the England U19s, U18s and U17s respectively. There is a clear pathway and process now, unlike when I was their age. The kids today can see the development, the transition, the acceptance and the realism right there in front of their eyes when they see Sunderland Women take to the pitch or the Lionesses on the TV.
The event was a great success and one which we hope continues in the future. Community events like this, which engage the fans and allow them to spend time with players outside of a matchday setting, can only further engrain the Lasses in the hearts of Sunderland faithful and our community.
And of course, glory for the England Lionesses in these Euros, too, will only embolden it further.
On our latest @RokerReport Lasses Podcast @antony_waterson told us all about the @SAFCWomen open training at Seaburn and the meetup at @stackseaburn to watch the #Lionesses on Monday.— Roker Report - The Lasses (@RRLasses) July 14, 2022
Listen now https://t.co/dvydDKVXKT
️Buy a season card https://t.co/REX5ANKxCG #SAFC ❤️ pic.twitter.com/mJFnJ4KVAk