A talented young footballer made history as she became the first girl ever to play in a boys’ County Cup final – all under the guidance of a former Premier League star.
The ability of football-mad Brooke Newton, 13, from Seaton Carew, was so obvious to her teachers at Dyke House Sports and Technology College that they decided to select her for the boys’ first team.
Brooke, who also plays for Hartlepool United’s Under-15s girls and is on the books of Durham FA Girls’ Player Development Centre, has gone from strength to strength over recent months.
She was in the Dyke House side which beat Acklam Grange 4-3 in Middlesbrough in the final of the Cleveland County Cup last week.
The team was coached by former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder Julio Arca, who now plays semi-professionally for South Shields FC.
He regularly visits the school to coach the youngsters as part of his work with the Back To Basics football coaching company.
She’s learning all the time, and her passion for the game is just incrediblePeter Newton
According to Brooke’s proud dad Peter, that is just one of the reasons behind her success, as well as her insatiable appetite for the game and the influence of Danny Evans, the director of elite development at Dyke House.
He said: “As soon as Brooke went to Dyke House, so many doors opened. She has got better and better, and the teachers, particularly Danny Evans, have been brilliant with her. Since they put her into the boys’ A team, she has gone like wildfire. She’s learning all the time, and her passion for the game is just incredible.”
Brooke can play on the right wing or at right-back, and narrowly missed out on being picked for Sunderland’s Under-15s squad at the age of just 12.
She became the first-ever female to play in a Cleveland County Cup final for any age group in the history of the association in Dyke House’s 4-3 victory last Thursday.
Peter added: “She did well and was over the moon with the victory. Julio was training them, as he does once or twice a week, and he’s a lovely gentleman.
“Since he has come along, the team has improved again, which is understandable. He doesn’t treat her any different to any of the others, which is what she likes.
“It’s absolutely priceless for her to have this guidance from former professional footballers, as the likes of former Sunderland captain Gary Bennett also come in to coach the team.”