YOUNG football fans in South Tyneside swapped watching their team for writing about it – thanks to a pioneering initiative.

Around 60 children from 10 schools across the borough took part in a special six- month scheme to promote literacy through sport.

And the results of their efforts were broadcast at a celebration event at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word this week (Monday 29 April).

The initiative – a partnership between The Word, South Shields Football Club, South Tyneside Libraries and OpenZone – kicked off in November.

Since then the youngsters – all aged between nine and 11 – have watched a South Shields FC match and taken part in a series of writing workshops at The Word.

With the help of local writer James Whitman, the children explored different writing techniques to create a match report.

They also interviewed South Shields FC defender Blair Adams, who has a degree in sports journalism, the club’s media officer, Daniel Prince, and South Shields FC Foundation Manager, Steve Camm.

They then recorded their reports in The Word’s Media Studio with the support of OpenZone @ The Word.

At the celebration event to mark the end of the project the children gathered at The Word for a screening of their work in front of an audience which included the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Cllr Ken Stephenson and Mrs Cathy Stephenson.

Tania Robinson, Head of Culture, at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, said the Promoting Literacy Through Sport project, “has managed to engage youngsters with the written word who normally might not have been as interested.

“With funding from asset management company Mirabaud Group, which is a sponsor of The Word, we set out to increase literacy engagement in children and young people across the borough and this project has done just that.

“The children involved have been able to take their passion for sport and turn it in to a fun way to develop their literacy skills by working with a fantastic local writer and the state-of-the-art facilities on offer here at The Word.”

Steve Camm, Manager of South Shield FC Foundation said that the he was “delighted to have worked with The Word on this project.

“By working in partnership we have been able to further expand on our Foundation programme to engage local children with the football club and give a further educational experience following on from their match day experience with us.”

Along with an ever changing exhibition programme, The Word houses a lending library featuring more than 70,000 books, a digital media wall, interactive touch-tables and StoryWorld, a completely immersive and magical storytelling experience for younger children.

It is also home to FabLab, which gives budding designers of all ages access to 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters, and OpenZone, which provides digital learning and ICT to schools.

For information about The Word, call 0191 427 1818 email enquiries@theworduk.org or visit www.theworduk.org.