A group of students from North Shore Academy in Stockton have impressed judges in their final challenge of the Raise Your Game initiative – an educational programme ran by Teesside Park and the Middlesbrough Football Club (MFC) Foundation, aimed at providing local young people with real-life business experience.

The fifteen year 9 pupils have undergone a variety of sessions over the course of two months as part of the initiative, culminating in a final challenge which saw them complete a detailed business analysis of retailers at Teesside Park before presenting back their findings to a panel of judges at the Riverside Stadium.

The judging panel was made up of representatives from Teesside Park, including Catherine Furlong, centre director, and Jane West, operations manager, as well as Paul Shepherd, business development manager for the MFC Foundation.

Catherine Furlong, centre director at Teesside Park, said: “The standard of the pupil’s final task really was exceptional, and I was so impressed by the incredible hard work they had put into it. It goes to show what invaluable experience initiatives like Raise Your Game can provide and why we have been committed to working in partnership with MFC Foundation for such a long time.

“A huge thank you to the Foundation for their ongoing amazing work in our community, and also to our retailers at Teesside Park who supported us by getting involved. But the biggest thank you must go to the students – it really has been an absolute pleasure!”

All pupils that took part were given a selection of MFC merchandise, while the winning team also received tickets to watch Middlesbrough FC’s pre-season friendly against Olympique Marseille.

Matthew Kirk, project coordinator at the MFC Foundation, said: “This has been an extremely successful year for the Raise Your Game project, where the group of students and the school (North Shore Academy) have thoroughly bought into the various experiences offered on the programme.

“We firmly believe that the strength of this partnership enables us to inspire hope and confidence for people in our local community”.

Raise Your Game is part of a long-term partnership between the MFC Foundation and Teesside Park, which will also see the organisations announce plans for its Bright Lights employability programme later this summer.

For more information on Teesside Park, visit www.teessideshopping.co.uk.