VIDEO: Hartlepool teenager heading off to Brazilian World Cup

A HARTLEPOOL teenager will embark on the trip of a lifetime to the World Cup finals in Brazil this summer as part of an innovative programme aimed at helping youngsters get on the jobs ladder.

Michael Richardson is the first of six teenagers to be picked for the dream 10-day trip to South America after graduating from the Street League course run in Hartlepool from the Belle Vue Community Sports and Youth Centre, in Kendal Road.

Boys for Brazil. Pictured (left to right) are Andy Gray, Dean Cartwright and Michael Richardson of Street League.

Boys for Brazil. Pictured (left to right) are Andy Gray, Dean Cartwright and Michael Richardson of Street League.

It is the first time the 16-year-old has been abroad and the excited teenager said he can’t wait to visit Brazil with the group which will also get tickets to watch one of the World Cup semi-final matches.

Street League leaders say he was a worthy choice because of his dedication and commitment to the course, which uses sport and education to help teenagers into work.

There are five other places to fill and teenagers will be selected from the next Street League course, due to run in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough from February.

Michael, a former Manor College of Technology pupil, said: “I am really excited and cannot wait to get over there and meet new people and get a flavour of the culture.

“I have really enjoyed my time with Street League and this really is a once in a lifetime trip,” added Michael, who lives in the Owton Manor area.

Andy Gray, progessions co-ordinator at Street League, helped choose Michael and he said he deserved it for his attendance, commitment and attitude.

Street League is a national charity which aims to help 16 to 25-year-old men and women into employment, education and training.

The Brazil opportunity came about after Street League was invited to take part in the FIFA-backed Football for Hope Festival, a football tournament involving 32 similar organisations from around the world that use football as a means of social development.

Street League, which is the only UK-based organisation and one of four from across Europe taking part, works with those who are not in employment, education and training (NEET), including young offenders and substance misusers and the young people take part in a range of activities to build their employability.

Dean Cartwright, Tees Valley Operations Manager in Hartlepool, said: “We are hoping to get as many young people from Hartlepool involved in this trip, which really is a one-off.

“It is a fantastic opportunity.” The Street League academy sessions are held at Belle Vue Community Sports and Youth Centre, in Kendal Road, and The Southlands Centre, in Middlesbrough and will relaunch on Monday, February 4, for eight weeks.

The aim of the intensive eight-week programme is to develop vital employability skills such as communication, teamwork and goal-setting and it also offers nationally-recognised qualifications. The academy sessions at the Belle Vue Centre are open to men and women from all backgrounds and can cater for between 16 and 20 young people. For more information about the new academy programme call Andy Gray on 07584706889.