TWO ex Sunderland players are set to embark on a joint venture in elite training.

Former Black Cats Martin Gray and Gary Bennett aim to provide more elite football training opportunities to grassroots football.

Combining their experience, Mr Gray and Mr Bennett are setting up their training academy, the MGB Academy.

Both coaches hold highly accredited football qualifications with the UEFA Pro and UEFA B licenses.

Through the training they aim to provide the next generation of footballers in the area.

Mr Bennett made 350 appearances for Sunderland during his time placing him fifth on the club’s appearances list.

Following their careers on the field both Mr Gray and Mr Bennett moved into leadership positions off the pitch.

They have both held manager positions at Darlington Football Club, with Mr Gray also going on to manage York City Football Club.

Martin Gray said: “We are delighted to announce a new venture between myself and Gary Bennett.

“The MGB Football Academy, has been set up to provide elite football training to individuals within the Sunderland area.

“We both thoroughly enjoyed our time at Sunderland during our careers and we look forward to providing further opportunities for the young people in the region.”

The MGB Academy programme will see players receive specialist coaching and advice.

The pair will also provide tailored feedback through one to ones with players for a cost-effective price.

Gary Bennett said: “I am delighted to partner with Martin on the MGB Academy.

“We have worked together for many years and we are very much looking forward to supporting and developing the local footballing talent.”

The MGB Academy kicks off with two free invitational training sessions, which take place on Tuesday, March 3, and Tuesday, March 10, at Silksworth Sports Complex, in Sunderland.

Sessions are for five to 15 year olds and will run from 6.30pm until 8.30pm, and the sessions will run on a term time basis.

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