Former pro Eartha Pond sees ‘future stars’ in Newcastle United Foundation Women’s and Girls’ programme
Former Premier League defender Eartha Pond has praised Newcastle United Foundation’s ambition to change the game for aspiring young players in the North East through more opportunities for women and girls.
Pond, who earned a number of accolades during her time on the pitch, saw first-hand how the official charity arm of Newcastle United is bringing young women and girls closer to a future in football through its Football Development pathways across the region.
Now an internationally acclaimed PE teacher, influential community councillor and The FA Women’s Football Board Non-Executive Director, Pond is dedicated to using her experience and expertise to boost the women’s game and opportunities through sport.
Joined by Newcastle United Women captain and Newcastle United Foundation Community Coach Brooke Cochrane, Pond met with dozens of girls taking part in an indoor football event at Northumbria University’s Coach Lane Campus.
Here, Pond hosted a question-and-answer session about her career and pathway into football with aspiring young players who can continue their journey in the sport through the Foundation’s Player Development Centre squads.
Pond said: “I am delighted to be visiting Newcastle United Foundation’s Women’s and Girls’ programme who have been working hard to increase participation, nurture talent and drive aspiration through delivery investment.
“One of my main reasons for joining the Football Association as a Non-Executive Director is to ensure equity is at the forefront in ensuring we provide a game that’s truly for all.
“As well as common threads which run throughout the game, there will be differences influenced by aspects such as locality, cultures, heritage and more, which I look forward to being part of first-hand.
“The growth of the game is amazing to be part of and the North East has a track record of producing talent at the highest level.”
She added: “I have no doubt this visit will afford me the opportunity later on in life to boast that I saw some of our future stars first.”
On the day, players took part in training drills, small-sided games, and penalty shootouts to help hone their skills on the pitch – joining more than 820 girls aged five to 16 who have been inspired by the charity over the past year.
The session was overseen by Lisa Bell, who has led development of women and girls’ football at Newcastle United Foundation for 12 years and has managed strategic growth of the women’s game in the city and beyond, providing more opportunities for players of all abilities to enjoy the sport.
Lisa, Women and Girls’ Football Development Officer at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “It has been fantastic to welcome Eartha to Newcastle and to introduce her to the next generation of talented young players we support at the Foundation.
“Eartha is an incredibly inspiring role model for our participants who can see her journey through football and how she has turned her experiences into affecting change in her community, women’s football and sport as a whole.
“We are very proud of our Women and Girls’ Football Development programme and the opportunities we can offer young people from the age of five, all the way through into their teenage years and chances to play while in further and higher education.
“We are thrilled to show Eartha the work going on in the North East to deliver high-quality coaching in a safe, friendly, and encouraging environment for girls and young women to access football and fulfil their ambitions of playing in the future.”
Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery generously support the Foundation’s Women’s and Girls’ Football Development programme, helping to educate, inspire and connect communities across the North East.
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