Talented Brooke Newton is dreaming of reaching the international stage after her football aspirations were given a major boost.
The Hartlepool schoolgirl, 13, has been handed a contract by Sunderland AFC.
She has followed in the footsteps of former professional player Julio Arca, who has been a huge influence on her progress over the last 12 months.
Brooke, from Seaton Carew, has been playing for the boys’ first team at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, which former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder Julio has been coaching.
Her success with that team – they won the Cleveland County Cup last season – as well as for Hartlepool United’s Under-15s and Durham FA Girls’ Player Development Centre, caught the eye of many clubs.
Brooke underwent trials with Durham, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, and after being offered a deal by all three, opted to make the move to the Black Cats.
Her dream is to put on the England shirt and play for her country. That’s the ultimate for herPeter Newton
Proud dad Peter Newton said: “Brooke is ecstatic, and thoroughly deserves this.
“She chose Sunderland over the other two as they play at the highest level, and give her a real chance of progressing in the game.
“Her dream is to put on the England shirt and play for her country. That’s the ultimate for her.
“She has the drive, passion and commitment to do it. I believe she will do it, and so does she, which is the most important thing.”
Peter has praised the influence of Julio, who now plays semi-professionally for South Shields FC and coaches at Dyke House as part of his work with the Back To Basics football coaching company.
He added: “Julio was the start of it all for Brooke. He has brought her on so much over the last year.
“I think that if he wasn’t involved, she certainly wouldn’t have improved as much as she has.
“She has so much drive, passion and commitment, and I believe she will achieve everything she wants to.”
Brooke, who plays as a right winger or forward, lives at home in Seaton Carew with dad Peter, mum Clare and siblings Zac, six, and Libby, 10.
To help her chase her dream, the family is seeking sponsorship.
All female youth players at Sunderland are encouraged to find their own sponsorship to help fund travelling to games and training camps.
In return, Sunderland will allow any company which comes forward to have their logo on their website, and allow the sponsor on the back of the player’s training jacket.
Brooke has already received heavyweight support, with the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Gordon Taylor, personally intervening to provide some kit. Now, though, more support would come in extremely handy.
Peter added: “We’re not asking for much – anything people can provide to help will be greatly appreciated.”
If you are interested in sponsoring Brooke, call 01429 682668.