SUNDERLAND AFC has joined forces with Derwentside Leisure to bring soccer coaching to even more local youngsters.

Black Cats' coaches already reach thousands of youngsters every year by going into schools in the region and holding courses during school holidays.

The new partnership will see qualified coaching staff from Derwentside Leisure - which was set up to run leisure centres for the district council - delivering programmes in partnership with the club throughout the district, allowing even more young people to benefit.

The Derwentside coaches will use Sunderland's equipment and it is hoped they will encourage even more youngsters to get involved in football.

Bob Oates, Sunderland's Football in the Community manager, said: "We have 48 coaching staff, and between them they cover a huge area - from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire, and from Cumbria to the East Coast.

"But even so, there are still many pupils who would love to welcome the club to their school.

"This partnership will mean we can reach even more youngsters and ensure they get quality coaching from Derwentside's experienced teachers.''

Derwentside Leisure's general manager, Colin Symm said: "We are excited by this new partnership and see it as a means of building on the quality Football Development Programme, which is already provided in Derwentisde.''

Coaching courses will also be held at Derwentside's leisure centres - the Louisa Centre in Stanley, and Belle Vue Leisure Centre in Consett during school holidays and on Saturdays.