Our Academy first year scholars have completed a 'Trailblazers' project, celebrating the rich diversity of players in British football and showcasing the achievements of the first ethnic minority footballers to represent MFC.

The Under-16 youngsters researched two historic pioneers of the game; Jamaican-born Lindy Delapenha, the first black player to pull on a Boro shirt who went on to make over 250 appearances for the club, and Arthur Wharton, widely considered to be the first black professional footballer in the world. The group visited a mural of Wharton where he started his amateur career in nearby Darlington, as well as the Arthur Wharton Foundation, the charity organisation set up in his honour.

The scholars also spoke with four modern trailblazers, holding Zoom Q&A sessions with Seb Hines, Marcus Tavernier and Nathan Wood - the first three black players to come through the Academy and make professional debuts for the club - as well as Marrie Wieczorek, who represented Middlesbrough Women and England as a player and now works with MFC Foundation. 

They then held a competition to design a mural of their own, depicting trailblazers Seb, Marcus and Nathan, which was brought to life as a contemporary piece of wall art on the walls of the Riverside by Dan Walls from Illumination Wall Art - leaving a lasting legacy for the project and a piece of inspiration for future generations.

One of the youngsters involved, Max Howells, said: "We learnt a lot about respecting different backgrounds, respecting where people have come from and the challenges they come across. 

"It was good to speak to players like Seb, Tav and Nathan who are role models for us on and off the pitch.

"There was a lot of work that went into the project, and we worked well as a team on it, and I think we all understand more because of it."