Sunderland Road

The club’s Academy of Light opened its doors in 2003 and is rightly considered amongst the best football training facilities in Europe.

The Academy is home to all the club’s representative teams, from the youngest age groups through to the U18, U23 and senior squads as well as the Sunderland Ladies team.

The club has been awarded prestigious Category One status under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) rules – the highest level possible.

The club’s players have access to magnificent facilities, including a hydrotherapy pool, top-class medical care and an indoor barn featuring a 4G synthetic pitch as well as up to 18 outdoor pitches.

The low-profile buildings are deceptive – the lower floor is completely below ground level and packs in more than can be imagined from the outside!

It’s a far cry from the club’s previous training ground, the Charlie Hurley Centre, which was made up of temporary buildings including an old cricket pavilion.


The Academy aims to be professional, approachable and friendly and will give young players the best chance to develop on the pitch as well as socially and academically.

We have a responsibility to develop young players in a challenging, safe and supportive environment with committed and experienced members of staff.

We strive to create an environment where developing players are encouraged to experiment, make errors and express themselves.

A system is in place which allows young players to progress to the first-team squad if they are prepared to work hard, be open-minded and stay committed.

Players will be treated fairly and will receive advice and feedback as part of a holistic approach which will produce young men and footballers we can all be proud of.

The educational development of every young footballer is a key part of Academy life, and we take our commitment to education seriously.

We firmly believe in lifelong learning and the holistic development of every Academy player.

This, together with our opinion that success is a journey not a destination, forms the foundation of our mission statement.

All full-time scholars embark on an Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE). The apprenticeship is comprised of a Level 3 NVQ Diploma plus an educational component. 

Most scholars will study for a BTEC Level 3 in Sport as part of their education and this is equivalent to two A-Levels.

The scholars also graduate from the Academy, whether to the professional game or elsewhere, with a referee’s qualification and an FA Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football.

Take a look around the Academy in the video above!


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