NUFC Foundation photography by sarah deane

Behind the scenes with Yoshi Muto

Have you ever wanted to see what the Newcastle United Premier League see as they pass through the player’s tunnel? Or maybe the dressing rooms with new graphics and updated interior where the team prepare before a match? Below are a selection of images that I took behind the scenes at St James’ park late last year with Yoshinori Muto and Newcastle United Foundation’s Melissa Scott.

Last year I was thrilled to begin working with Newcastle United Foundation, the official charity partner of Newcastle United Football Club. The Foundation uses the local passion for football to help support disadvantaged children, young people and families by teaching healthy lifestyle, fitness and employability across the region. They are currently fundamental in supporting food banks, NHS and vulnerable communities in Newcastle during the debilitating Covid-19 pandemic.

The Foundation team are based at St James’ Park and have their own in-house NUFC photographer Serena, but I pick up when she can’t be in two places at the same time. I get such a buzz when I approach the ginormous towering grounds and it’s always such a privilege to be pitch side or behind the scenes outside match times. Having free rein of the stadium feels incredibly special!

Last Autumn I documented Newcastle United player Yoshinori Muto meeting excited young Japanese football fans who had travelled more than 5,700 miles form Shinshiro to visit Newcastle and St James’ Park. The school children were part of an initiative linking towns and cities named ‘Newcastle’ across the world which, Melissa Scott the Foundation’s Community Coordinator was involved with. She had travelled to Shinshiro the year before, playing in a Japanese sports day event with countries from all over the world and left a signed shirt from the club’s premier players at the school. My images of the excited faces meeting Yoshi were for an article published in the Chronicle here

After Yoshi posed for pictures and received gifts from fans he wanted to learn more about the charity’s work. I captured documentary photography in the sparkling newly refurbished NUFC changing rooms whilst they discussed Melissa’s role. She explained she was involved with many staff, children and teenagers at Newcastle’s Great North Children’s Hospital on the paediatric oncology ward as they receive cancer care. Melissa’s work is only possible thanks to a special partnership between Newcastle United Foundation, Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and People’s Postcode Lottery. More about the charity’s work can be found here

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