Sport student Joao Gomes has signed his first senior contract with South Shields FC after starring for club’s youth team.
The 18-year-old impressed while part of the Mariners’ Performance Pathway, delivered in partnership with Sunderland College, which provides elite football in education opportunities for talented players aged 16-19.
As well as gaining a BTEC in Sports Performance and Excellence Joao also shone on the pitch, scoring four goals as South Shields FC Academy reached the FA Youth Cup third round.
Joao said: “I am delighted to have been rewarded for all of my efforts over the last two years within the academy, I believe this is reflective of my hard work and dedication across my time throughout the programme with South Shields FC and Sunderland College. It has been character building, especially given the disruption to football and education in recent times.
“I have really enjoyed all of my different experiences, and I want to thank everyone who has helped play their part in supporting me to this stage of my development.”
Growing up in Lisbon, Portugal, Joao moved to England two years ago where he initially found it difficult living in a different country, especially the accent and weather. Although football provided a welcome distraction, it was his time at Bede Campus which helped the youngster adapt to life in the North East.
He added: “I would like to thank Carl Jones and the staff at Sunderland College for helping me settle into the environment, and provide me with that focus, especially when joining groups. I would also like to thank MN Elite Performance who developed my understanding of injury prevention and recovery.
“They have really supported me to develop my communication skills; I really feel I have improved my relationship building as I used to be really shy before I arrived in England.”
The attacking midfielder will now link-up with Shields’ first team, joining a long line of players who have progressed into professional football through the partnership such as Huddersfield Town’s Will McCamley as well as fellow academy graduates Will Jenkins and Sam Hodgson.
Wess Brown, South Shields FC Academy Manager, said: “Joao’s potential has shone since he first walked through the door. He is an exciting talent, and we look forward to watching him progress.
“It is fantastic achievement for the South Shields FC Academy having another player sign a professional contract, with hopefully more to come. Great strides have been made through our partnership with Sunderland College and it is important for our academy players to see the progression opportunities ahead both in football and education.”
The Performance Pathway was established in May 2017 when Sunderland College teamed up with South Shields FC side to create a football development programme which combines high-quality coaching and competitive matches with a choice of education pathways ranging from A-Levels to vocational courses.
Carl Jones, Football Development and TASS Dual-Career Co-ordinator, added: “What an outstanding achievement from Joao. He is a committed, dedicated student-athlete who has combined his academic studies with professional sport ambitions and is achieving success despite several challenges.
“I am proud to have had the pleasure of working work with an outstanding young man. He is engaging, polite and extremely respectful, and to be rewarded with a two–year senior contract speaks volumes of his personality and football ability.
We are all very proud of his achievements and we look forward to seeing how he progresses at South Shields Football Club alongside other Performance Pathway students who have made the step up from the academy to the senior squad.”
To find out more about our Sports Development Centres or Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org or register for one of our Open Events at www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk/events.
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