CENTRE half Matty Lovegreen was encouraged to get into the sport by his friend and has never looked back since.
As part of the County Durham squad, his team won the league and reached the regional cup final.
“I made my debut for Darlington last week and felt I played quite well,” said Matty, of Shildon.
The 17-year-old is studying a BTEC in Sport with football at Darlington College, an innovative course that teams students up with Darlington Football Club manager Martin Gray and his specialised sporting academy.
“The way the Darlington College course is set up with MGFA and Darlington is very professional and gives you a real insight into the game,” he said.
“The tutors are great, the coaches excellent and it is really interesting studying the fitness and mental side of the sport, as well as been given the chance to coach.”