June 23, 2021
A student at Northern Education Trust Dyke House Academy is living the dream after signing a scholarship with Sunderland Football Club.
Will Cain, who has just spent his final day at the Hartlepool academy, will now spend the rest of the summer getting ready for training as a full-time footballer at the Stadium of Light.
It is richly deserved for the 16-year-old who has dedicated the last nine years of his life to combining his exceptional schoolwork with developing his undoubted talent. Hearing that Sunderland were keeping him on was made that extra bit special because he was brought up a fan by his Black Cats-supporting grandad Brian, and dad Phil.
Will, a versatile centre-midfielder, said: “It feels great to know I am going to be training every day like a professional footballer, as a result of all the work I have put in over the last eight years. That was what all the work was for and now I will be doing everything I can to make sure I cope with the demands of being a footballer. My grandad was from Sunderland and all of his family, so my dad grew up a fan of Sunderland as well – and I have grown up that way too. Every Sunderland fan’s dream is to play for the club. Now I want to get in the first team so badly because that is my club.”
Will is going to be working under former Hartlepool coach John Hewitson as part of the Sunderland Under-18s squad when he returns for pre-season training in July, building towards the new season in August.
“A couple of the lads had got the contracts early, well deserved, and I had to wait until February for mine,” said Will. “It was quite testing. It was the first time I have played for a contract because I have always known in advance. That should benefit me going into the next two years, fighting for a pro deal. In the Football League it tends to be always short-term contracts, so I know what it feels like already. I have had two big injuries during my time at Sunderland, a heel problem and then a stress fracture in my back which was misdiagnosed. I have shown resilience coming back from those and it’s a good test to have come through.”
Will helped Sunderland to win the Under-13 International Premier League Cup and then the Under-14s National Cup. He was also called into the Under-16s provisional Scotland squad. Last year he captained Dyke House’s team to the County Cup final but it didn’t take place because of COVID-19. He has led the team to multiple town cup finals over the years.
Will is now waiting to receive his GCSE results in August.
Adam Palmer, Dyke House’s Principal, said: “Will is a remarkable young man and is an absolute credit to his family. His dedication towards both his studies and his football have paid off for him and we are all absolutely delighted for him. We will keep a keen eye on his development and look forward to tracking his career as a professional footballer.
“I think it’s also important to recognise his mature attitude towards his studies. Will has a very clear plan in place about his next steps in education, alongside his football, which is testament to the type of person he is. He’s very driven, mature, and incredibly hardworking. I’m incredibly proud of Will and we are all excited about the great things he will achieve.”
Will has been part of Dyke House’s Elite Development Squad sports scholarship programme for the last five years. The former Holy Trinity pupil said: “School has helped me a lot, with the Elite and letting me go on my day release. Mrs Ramsey, Mr Williams, Mrs Clark and Mr Palmer have always been really supportive when I have missed school time and I’ve had to catch up.”
Will is planning to study an extended BTEC at Sunderland, equivalent to three A-levels, so he has the option of university further down the line if he wants to, regardless of what the future holds for him at the Stadium of Light.