Football coaching and rabbits from hats

This month’s Jesmond Community Festival included a Sunday morning Newcastle United football coaching session, held at Bells Yard. The event, for children up to the age of 14 years and for all abilities, was coached by Andy Dobby – community football coach for Newcastle United Foundation.

The day started with an introduction by Dobby to settle the young people’s nerves, and then a game of football. Dobby handed out coaching tips and encouraged the children throughout the day. Jane Gibbon, a mum of two of the participants, commented that it was “great how the event included all abilities – and it was a good way to get up on a Sunday morning”.

After the first game the children took part in a football Olympics game, where the challengers took on different events including “football bowling”. The eventual winner, Sam, aged 10 was rewarded with a pair of tickets for a Newcastle United home game for his great performance. The children played another game until they were given a well deserved rest. Refreshments were provided by Fiona Clarke from the Bells Yard Regeneration Group. By this time the Yard was full of other families with their own children plus a number of other young people playing basketball – it’s is becoming a very well used resource for Jesmond residents.

To finish off the day the keen footballers played a crossbar challenge competition. The winner, Tommy aged 9 also won a pair of tickets for a Newcastle United home game. Another parent, Jamie Wallace, who works at Jesmond Dene House commented: “It is great that I saw this advertised where I work – I brought my son all the way from Bedlington for today’s event.”

If you missed the event, don’t worry: there are two more Newcastle United football coaching events at the same venue over Easter. The dates are Tuesday 6th April and Tuesday 13th April, both from 10am-12pm and at the same venue.

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Meanwhile Martin Duffy – aka “Martin the Magician” entertained children and their parents with a Harry Potter-themed magic show, at St Catherines RC Primary School in Sandyford. Donning a full Dumbledore outfit, complete with floor-length white beard, Duffy wowed the audience with tricks and jokes, from predictions of “Bertie Bott’s every-flavoured beans” to the magical appearance of Stewart the rabbit. The children were active participants, picked as assistants with a certificate to take away. Parents seemed equally entertained by the show’s variety and Duffy’s all encompassing humour.

A few lucky kids took away free magic kits and magic wands, and looked delighted to try out newfound Harry Potter talents on long suffering parents.

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