Sunderland's Jermain Defoe teams up with East Durham College to support Bradley Lowery Foundation

02.11.23 Jermain Defoe and Bradley Lowery Credit: PA
Ex-Sunderland footballer Jermain Defoe visited Peterlee to support the Bradley Lowery Foundation with the help of coaches from East Durham College who are developing skills of young players on and off the pitch. Credit: PA

Ex-Sunderland footballer Jermain Defoe paid a visit back to the area to continue his support for the childhood cancer charity - The Bradley Lowery Foundation.

Defoe said Sunderland is one of the best clubs he has ever played for in terms of support and fanbase.

A half-term camp is raising funds for the charity with the help of coaches from East Durham College in Peterlee.

Coaches say development on and off the pitch is vital to the growth and maturity of young players, sending a message that sportsmanship matters both on and off the pitch.

Defoe is one of the patrons of The Bradley Lowery Foundation after first meeting Bradley in 2016 when he was a mascot at a Sunderland match and they walked on to the pitch together. 

Jermain Defoe continues to support the Bradley Lowery Foundation after they became "best friends" when Bradley was a Sunderland AFC mascot. Credit: PA

Defoe said: "Im always happy to come back. It's a place that means a lot to me - mostly my time here at Sunderland - with Bradley, the foundation and the family.

"It means the world to me, like you can imagine. Even if it means getting on a train and coming up just to show my face. Support the kids, support the foundation, support Gemma and the family to raise funds."

"It's just nice to come back and see the kids enjoying themselves. It's so important. It's a win-win. Takes the pressure off the parents. The kids are off the streets - exercising which is always important.

"Hopefully to raise a lot of funds for the foundation. It's been great."

Coach Jonathan Ramshaw said the camp gives children the opportunity to express and enjoy themselves by engaging in physical activity.

Mr Ramshaw said: "It's about getting them away from bedrooms, X-Boxes, Play-Stations - helps combat obesity rates."

One of the student coaches Callum Shipley said: "It's a social activity. They are getting out and involved and making friends. It's reducing crime."

Jermain Defoe said it's more than just football and that he would have loved such a camp when he was younger. Credit: ITV

Defoe added: "At the end of the day it's football and football brings everyone together. It's such a nice humbling feeling to come back and see the kids having fun, getting together.

"When I was younger I would have loved something like this. At half-term you can come out, play football all day, have your lunch - it's amazing. A really good feeling.

"It's more than just football. It's quite funny because I'm coaching now and it's almost like you're school teachers. You have to coach and teach the kids how to play football but at the same time, I think it's a lot more than that. In terms of discipline, standards.

"Not only here, but what you're like at home, what you're like at school - how you speak to your teachers, friends, siblings. For me, it's more than just football and that's why I'm coming back and helping the coaches is really nice - that's good."

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