BUDDING football stars have been given new drive thanks to a sponsorship deal with a family run motor dealer.
The Alun Armstrong Soccer Academy has secured the backing of Darlington dealer Sims Suzuki helping hundreds of children to develop their skills.
The former Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Ipswich player, whose claim to fame was scoring twice against Inter Milan, has taken delivery of a Suzuki Vitara, resplendent in the academy and Sims Suzuki livery.
Sponsorship will also see the dealer provide man of the match trophies and back football tournaments.
Alun launched his charity in Shildon to bridge the gap between soccer schools and development centres targeting players aged seven to 14. Three of his former players are currently signed to Middlesbrough.
He also stages summer soccer sessions to find and hone the skills of the region’s up and coming athletes and organises tournaments that attract more than 90 teams.
“I love been on the pitch with the kids and what really matters is that we help everyone improve their game,” he said.
Sims Suzuki general manager Stuart Bromley said: “This area is so passionate about football.
We have 27 members of staff on site and virtually all of them love the game. Sponsoring Alun is a great way to support grassroots sport, keep children off the streets and foster the region’s young talent.”
The sponsorship deal comes just as Sims staff becoming stars of the small screen with their first ever TV ad.
Staff spent a day with a film crew to get over their message that they care about people for a 30 second advert on Sky.
“It was a great experience for staff and an opportunity to capture our family ethos developed over the past 26 years,” said Stuart. “We sell cars but our business is people.”