By Emma Pocock
A record breaking number of primary schools participated in this year’s Kinder +Sport EFL Kids Cup, with 160 different teams taking part, 67 more teams than the previous year. These teams came from 112 primary schools across South Wales, an increase of 31 more schools participating this year than last.
The tournament, run in association with New Directions Education, saw a record number of schools competing for the chance to represent South Wales in the regional finals, set to be held at Brentford FC on the 6th March 2017. Six qualifying days took place throughout November 2016 and January 2017, with 4 teams from each of these going through to the regional finals held on the 19th January 2017.
Out of the 24 teams who took part in these finals, the ultimate winners were St Peter’s R.C. Primary School, based in Roath, Cardiff. This team will now compete against teams representing Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Bristol City, Ipswich Town, Norwich City, QPR, Reading and Wolverhampton Wonderers in the regional finals on the 6th March.
Howard Burge, National Director of New Directions Education, had this to say about the event: “New Directions have been involved with the Foundation and the Kids Cup for the past 5 years. I’ve seen the tournament triple in size in recent years; it really is a fantastic experience for all involved.”
“The skills and talent on display is truly impressive. Nostalgia creeps in every year I attend the Kids Cup; you remember that as a kid, there’s nothing better than playing in these kinds of tournaments. The Foundation staff bring the perfect balance of executing a professionally run tournament whilst keeping the fun element alive.”
The winner of the regional finals will go on to represent Cardiff City FC at Wembley before the Championship play-off final on 29th May, 2017. The once in a lifetime opportunity to play in front of a stadium which has a capacity of 90,000 fans is a fantastic incentive for all involved in the EFL Kids Cup, something which is sure to bring out passion and determination from all the young soccer stars.
The Sport Engagement Manager for the Foundation Dean Pymble said: “It’s great to see so many children enjoying football in a competitive environment like this. The prospect of playing at Wembley would be an actual dream come true for most of these players and it’s fantastic to be able to provide that opportunity with the help of the Football League.”
The Foundation also teamed up with national charity His Church, who provided a free breakfast giveaway on the 5th January as part of a new project founded by the charity which seeks to improve educational attainment through the provision of a good quality breakfast cereal. Initiatives such as these are of great importance, after a study carried out in 2013 concluded that a child arriving at school hungry will lose one hour of learning time within that day. It has also been found that 8 – 12% of school children skip breakfast all together, showing the need for projects such as these.
This giveaway saw all children from the 32 teams competing that day leave with a box of cereal, while other schools who have attended throughout the six qualifying days, and other schools around South Wales were invited to come and collect cereal for their school.