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Ex-Sunderland and Middlesbrough stars to coach Hartlepool youngsters at Dyke House College

Former Sunderland defender Gary Bennett, with Rhys Morris.
Former Sunderland defender Gary Bennett, with Rhys Morris.

Former professional footballers have returned to Dyke House College to begin another year of coaching promising talents.

The Back2Basics team consists of former Sunderland and Middlesbrough players Gary Bennett, Dean Gordon, Kieron Brady and David Corner.

This year will also see South Shields’ goalkeeper coach Philly Nesbitt and fitness coach Mohamed Khalil Hmida involved in some sessions.

Football is a key part of Dyke House’s Elite Development Squad scholarship programme along with golf, swimming, athletics, cricket and dance.

The Elite is in its sixth year and offers students selected a range of benefits including strength and conditioning sessions and specialised coaching.

European Tour pro Graeme Storm is the golf consultant on the scheme, while the Back2Basics team will lead regular football classes over a 25-week period.

Those will include a focus on the different positions with all elite footballers and the new intake of Year 7s having special sessions designed for just them.

Dyke House has produced young professionals such as Middlesbrough’s Harry Chapman and Burnley’s Vinnie Steels in recent years, while Cameron Painter signed a scholarship with Grimsby after leaving school in May.

Sunderland legend Bennett said: “We are looking at enjoyment and the development of all of them. Over the last few years the results have shown the programme works.

“Dyke House has got a name for itself in producing young footballers and sportsmen and women - hopefully they will continue to go on to a professional career.

“We helped with a talent ID over a two-week period at the end of the last academic year for this group of Year 7s and I have got to say the level was very high.

“This is not just about improving football talent though, it is also about development in terms of life skills.”

Rhys Morris will be driving the Elite Development Squad this year at Dyke House, a Northern Education Trust academy. He has been appointed the scheme coordinator.

Mr Morris said: “We are really proud of the success of the scheme over the years and we are really looking forward to seeing the progress our students will make over the next nine months.

“The new Year 7s should excel on the scheme with some excellent coaching. Over the last six years we are proud of what some students have gone to achieve.”

The deadline for Year 5s and Year 6s to apply for a place at Dyke House is October 31. For further details contact r.morris@northerneducationtrust.org