`

Northumberland footballers selected for European tournament

Karl Young (left) and Corey Haikney, who have been selected to play in a European football tournament in July.
Karl Young (left) and Corey Haikney, who have been selected to play in a European football tournament in July.

Two local footballers have been selected to play in a European football tournament for people with learning difficulties.

Karl Young, from Ashington, and Corey Haikney, from Blyth, will head out to Spain next month after being included in the squad of nine through the NUFC Foundation.

The pair play weekly with Active Northumberland’s Ability 2 Play programme, which has had a long partnership with the NUFC Foundation – the charitable arm of Newcastle United Football Club.

The foundation regularly sends coaches to support the local football sessions running at Blyth Sports Centre and to assess players during sessions and leagues across the north east.

Corey, who has been playing football with the Ability 2 Play Scheme for ten years, said: “This is a massive opportunity for me.

“I started playing for Ability 2 Play in 2006. If it wasn’t for football I would be stuck playing my Xbox.

“I’ve recently started to work out in preparation for our matches in Benidorm.

“I’m looking forward to representing the Newcastle Foundation.”

Karl, who has been playing with the scheme for three years, said: “I’ve been playing football for a long time.

“I joined the Special Olympics football team when I was 16 and played for them for six years.

“I’ve never been abroad before and I’m excited to play the other teams that will be at the matches.”

Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for them to go out and play a sport they love, on a trip paid for through the foundation.

“I am sure they will have a fantastic and very memorable time.”

Links with the Spanish tournament were developed when Rafa Benitez took charge at Newcastle United.

Last year the foundation took a Down Syndrome team to the tournament. This year, those on the north east team have learning difficulties.