Sports stars at Gateshead College are celebrating their most successful season ever with a record number of team and individual achievements across a wide range of sporting disciplines including football, basketball, rugby, boxing, netball and athletics.
The students who all study at the college also train and participate in one of eight specialist sport academies at the Academy of Sport.
In football, both the men and women teams have achieved incredible success both as a group and individually. Coached by Melanie Reay, the women’s football team won the treble; the college equivalent of the FA Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League, being crowned the Associations of College’s (AoC) League Champions and Premier Cup winners as well as winning the English College’s FA play off final.
The female footballers also excelled individually with Neve Herron and Jess Brown being called up to the England Under 19s team. Whilst Libbi McInnes was selected to join the England Under 18s team, Rebecca Ferguson successfully secured her place in the England Under 17s team and Abby Towers was also invited to join the England Colleges Football Association squad.
In men’s football, in the National League Under 19 Youth Alliance, the Under 19s team were crowned North Division champions and League Cup winners for the first time. The college’s Under 17s team won the English College’s FA Yorkshire Men’s Football Invitational League. The development teams performed strongly too; development team one were double winners, crowned North East Colleges League (NECL) Development champions and also cup winners and the third development team won their NECL Development League too.
Under 18s player Connor Pani excelled individually picking up a winners medal for Gateshead Football Club as a National League North winner. He also made the ECFA England squad and represented the team in all three games against ISFA, Wales and Chelsea FC scoring against both Wales and Chelsea.
Basketball and netball were also sports in which the college excelled. In men’s basketball, the first team coached by former Eagles player Drew Lasker were crowned the 2021-22 AoC’s National Champions. The Championships are a celebration of competitive sport in colleges, providing recognition and a fun opportunity for students to compete.
In netball, the college’s first team won the AoC’s North East League, with the second team securing the runners up place. Georgia Grey and Holly Jones were selected for the AoC National Netball squad, with Holly being named their player of the year and Georgia the most improved player of the year. Holly was also selected to play in the Under 19s North East regional squad and has also been selected to train with the Wales Senior and Under 21s squad. A number of the college’s netball players were also picked for regional squads; Hope Jobling for the Northumberland County Under 17s and Anna Thomas and Georgia Grey for the North Durham County Under 17s.
Meanwhile in rugby, promising star Niamh Swailes was called up to captain both the England Under 18s and the North East and Cumbria Centre of Excellence squad. Four of the men’s rugby players represented the college in regional squads; George Dafter for Durham County Under 17s, Nelson Da Silva, Noah Fleming and Ben Harris for Northumberland County Under 17s whilst Sam Suka was chosen to represent the Premiership Rugby side Newcastle Falcons in the Under 17s league this season.
In the boxing ring, Gateshead College students also came out on top, with George Peacock becoming the U64kg MTK Box Cup Champion for the third time. In women’s boxing, Dionne Mannion is the 2022 U54kg Youth Cadet National Champion and has also been crowned best female youth cadet boxer of the tournament as well as being selected for the England Boxing Talent Pathway. Back in October 2021, Zoe Macdonald won the U69kg MTK Box Cup and the next month she took the 2021 U69kg Female Youth Development National Title.
It was also a successful year for the college’s athletes with Elli O’Halloran taking first place in shotput and Reece Slater winning the 1500m at the AOC Northern Athletics event. Competing at the North Eastern Counties Athletics Championships, triple jumper Tom Patterson won the gold medal and Lexi Brown picked up silver in the long jump.
John Deary, head of department at the college’s Academy for Sport, said: “Huge congratulations to our students and their coaches for their phenomenal success this year.
“To achieve what we have collectively done as a college is incredible, especially following the long-term disruption caused by the pandemic.
“Our success across the board in a variety of sports demonstrates the opportunities Gateshead College can provide to budding young sports stars and those who want to establish and enjoy a career in the world of sport.
“We provide the very best in training, coaching and facilities and are committed to ensuring each and every one of our students fulfil their sporting potential as well as ensuring they achieve in the classroom and leave us with a qualification.
“Well done to the class of 2022, both the students and their coaches should be hugely proud of what they have achieved, it’s exceptional.”
To find out more about Gateshead College and the courses on offer at The Academy of Sport, visit http://www.gateshead.ac.uk/academy-for-sport/