EFL Kids Cup 2018 Round-Up

For 48 children, a dream became a reality at the weekend as representatives from Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, AFC Wimbleon, Oldham Athletic, Colchester United and Morecambe grasped their opportunity to play on the Wembley turf in the EFL Kids Cup Final.

Over 16,000 youngsters and 1,800 schools took part this year in six-a-side tournaments organised on behalf of the EFL and EFL Trust, with the 72 EFL clubs firstly split into three divisions, in line with the club’s divisional status, before being again split into two groups, north and south.

The six winners of the northern and southern finals in each respective division are then given the opportunity to be crowned Kids Cup champions at Wembley before their represented division’s Play-Off Final across the Bank Holiday Weekend.

So, who are the schools and the children that earned a once in a lifetime experience and who was crowned champions at the weekend?

Queens Park Rangers (John Keble Primary School)  

QPR and John Keble Primary school progressed to the Wembley showpiece after beating Aston Villa, who topped the standings at the end of the group stages, before a narrow 1-0 victory against Cardiff City in the regional Final.

Team: 5. Elluyani Passos ©, 1. Daniel Matuka (GK), 6. Jimmy Nguyen. 7. Christopher Eldemire, 8. Toure Downer, 9. D’Jahnni Smith, 10. Donte Ranger, 11. Reshaun Da Silva.

Sheffield Wednesday (Greenhill Primary School)

Underdogs going into their regional Final, Sheffield Wednesday and Greenhill Primary School defeated a Hull City side who had yet to concede a goal leading up to that stage. Once again, one goal was enough to seal their place in the Final.

Team: 9. Callum Milner ©, 13. Thomas Everest-Wilcock (GK), 2. Lucian Hagin, 4. James Wilson, 15. Toby Smith, 16. Daniel Birch, 17. Tommy Snell, 18. Jude Akram.

Winners in the Grand Final: Queens Park Rangers (John Keble Primary School)

A convincing 3-1 victory sealed it for The Hoops as they got off to a perfect start with Reshaun Da Silva firing home from close range.

QPR’s advantage was doubled at the break thanks to a fine solo goal from D’Jahnni Smith, who also doubled his tally after half time, coolly slotting beyond the goalkeeper to make it three.

Wednesday grabbed themselves a late consolation courtesy of a Callum Milner header, but i was all in vain as QPR – and John Keble Primary – celebrated victory at the final whistle.

“It’s a great achievement for the boys and I think they deserve everything they got today,” said John Keble Primary teacher Eddie Prempeh.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play at the National Stadium and it’s been the talk of the town for a while.

“These boys are talented and well-developed, and most importantly they weren’t shy about showing that on a big stage like Wembley.”

 

AFC Wimbledon  (Cleves School)

A former winner of the EFL Kids Cup, Cleves school returned to Wembley Stadium hoping to win the competition for a second time after defeating Southend 1-0 in the regional Final.

Interestingly, what makes it even more special for the school is that four of the boys playing this weekend had older siblings in the team that played, and won, at Wembley two years ago.

Team: 11. Edward Roberts ©, 1. Samuel Honour (GK), 3. Ben Vigrass, 6. Frank Vigrass, 7. Joshua Lewis, 8. Oliver Swetman, 10. Sami Holmes, 17. Charlie Davidson.

Oldham Athletic (South Failsworth Primary)

Another former winner of the competition after their success in 2013/14 against Crawley Town. Returning to similar surroundings. The team’s number 9, Amalee was only the second girl to appear in an EFL Kids Cup Final.

Team: 10. Evan Lloyd ©, 1. Zack Tobin (GK), 4. Ted Dockray, 5. Xander Taylor, 7. Stephen Maylett, 8. Kieran O’Hanlon, 9. Amalee Mason, 15. Jayden Brooks

Winners in the Grand Final: AFC Wimbledon (Cleves School)

AFC Wimbledon raced into an early lead when Joshual Lewis redirected a low drive, finding the net with the Oldham goalkeeper wrong-footed by the deflection.

The Latics pushed for an equaliser but found themselves two down when a devastating counter attack was finished off by Lewis, and Sami Holmes finished equally emphatically when making it three before the break.

Oldham never gave up, holding firm as the kids of Cleves School pushed for a fourth, but it was AFC Wimbledon’s day, clinching the Cup with a 3-0 win.

“We had a gameplan, which was executed perfectly, but most importantly they enjoyed their football and you can see that in how they played,” said Cleves School teacher Mr Smith.

“The competition format is fabulous and the EFL have been great from the word go, as have AFC Wimbledon who have supported us all the way. It’s an excellent competition and to finish it off at Wembley is amazing.”

Colchester United (St John Fisher School)

An impressive route towards the National Stadium for Colchester United, winning every single game, scoring 11 goals and conceding just two. A 1-0 victory against Cheltenham Town secured their place, with a free-kick in the final moments deciding the game.

Team: 9. Harry Amass ©, 1. Riley Doherty (GK), 6. Joshua Popoola, 7. Eden McNicholas, 10. Charlie Jiggins, 11. Harvey North, 12. Harry Falzon, 17. Evan Bastow.

Morecambe (St. Peter’s C of E Primary School)

Morecambe were certainly made to work for their place in the League Two showpiece after an exciting and topsy-turvy affair against Crewe Alexandra in the regional Final. Both sides had led at stages before a dramatic late winner secured St Peter’s C of E a place at Wembley.

Team: 8. Oliver Whatmuff ©, 1. Dominic Holden (GK), 3. Noah Jones, 4. Harley Illingworth, 6. Josh Robinson, 7. Adam Fairclough, 9. Scott James Freeman, 10. Alfie Buckley.

Winners in the Grand Final: Morecambe (St Peter’s C of E Primary School)

An evenly matched first period sprang into life on the stroke of half-time, when a brilliant piece of skill from Adam Fairclough left his marker bamboozled. He then provided the finish to match, firing home a fierce left-footed effort beyond the Colchester goalkeeper.

Colchester pushed for an equaliser in the second half but failed to make a breakthrough against a stubborn defence, and so it was the youngsters of St Peters who lifted the EFL Kids Cup up in the Royal Box at Wembley with a 1-0 win.

“They’ve trained so hard, and worked so hard in every single game since getting together as a new group in September, and they’ve done absolutely amazingly,” said teacher Natalie Knowles.

“It’s been massive both in the school and in the community, everyone has been talking about it. We’ve been striving towards this since September and we’ve not only got here, but been able to win.”

Cambridge United establish school mental health project ‘Mind Your Head’

Cambridge United Community Trust (CUCT) have established a new secondary school mental health project to improve well-being and help young people deal better with stress and anxiety.

The ‘Mind Your Head’ pilot has been running since January 2018 in five central Cambridge secondary schools and will have reached over 600 young people by the end of this summer term.

The project was announced to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week and is part of Cambridge United’s wider commitment to promoting positive mental health at the club and in the community.

‘Mind Your Head’ is delivered through CUCT in partnership with Cambridge youth mental health charity ‘Centre 33’. The programme provides lessons that destigmatize mental health, educate young people about how to deal with stress and also encourage young people to discuss how social media can both positively and negatively affect their well-being.

Josh Turner, one of the pupils taking part from Trumpington Community College said: “Footballers coming in to tell us about mental health is actually quite profound because they are people that young people look up to as their idols.

“The footballers telling us that they sometimes struggle with mental health is good to listen to and good for our own understanding.”

Sam Squire, a Cambridge United scholar who has been actively involved at schools said: “It’s important for Cambridge United to focus on mental health in schools as that’s when issues such as social media can challenge a young person’s confidence and resilience.

“As a football club we can hopefully use our respected position in society to help promote positive mental health.”

Graham Daniels, Director of Football at Cambridge United and Chair of Cambridge United Community Trust said: “We want Cambridge United to take a leadership position on mental health within the game and within our community.

“Everyone has mental health, we can have our ups and downs. We believe it’s particularly important to help equip young people with the skills to deal with the challenges they inevitably face as they grow up.

“It all forms a part of our wider effort as a club to show the positive power of football throughout our community.”

 

Deaf Awareness Week 2018 (14th-20th May)

Between the 14th-20th May, it is Deaf Awareness Week, a unique campaign in that so many different organisations participate, each able to promote their own work within the broad spectrum of deafness.

In the UK there are around 9 million people who are deaf and hard of hearing, yet each day we continually put one of our most important senses at risk. Loss of hearing can cause people to become isolated and lonely, having a tremendous affect on both their social and working life.

EFL Trust supports #DeafAwarenessWeek, as our clubs do fantastic work in this area using the power of football to break down barriers and increase sports participation for all.

Through Every Player Counts, our landmark project formed in September 2016 thanks to a 1.1M donation from Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST), a number of clubs offer individual programmes covering a wide range of disabilities including hearing and visual impairment, learning difficulties, amputees and autism, giving many disabled people access to football for the first time.

Reading FC are a prime example, after forming a Deaf Football team in 2013 with the help of Total Communication, one of the leading British Sign Language (BSL) agencies.

After an initial 10 weeks of taster sessions, Reading FC Deaf were integrated into local 7 aside football festivals and began competing in the BOBi League – a pan-disability league that operates across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Since then, the team has attracted more players and has developed into an 11 a-side squad, playing in competitions such as the South English Deaf League, The FA Disability Cup, and The FA County Cup.

After a few successful years on the pitch, Reading FC Deaf have won 7 trophies and finished runners-up after making their debut in the FA People’s Cup finals this this year at St George’s Park.

Due to the success, the team have been able to develop a number of talented players who have gone on to represent England and Great Britain Deaf Football teams.

Daniel Rook, Reading FC Community Trust’s My Ability Programme Manager said: “It’s fantastic that we have had so much success in attracting the deaf community in Berkshire to be a part of the Reading FC Deaf team.

“The strength of this provision shows that disability football is a growing sport not only in Berkshire but across the whole country.”

Preston North End students take in the Portugal experience

Students of Preston North End headed overseas for an educational sports visit to Lisbon, taking on foreign opposition whilst enjoying the Portugal culture.

Playing in different stadiums and training in first class facilities, it gave students on the education programme a unique experience as representatives of Preston North End in foreign territory as Education Tutor and coach Zach Clarke explained.

“The team spent five days in Portugal taking part in various activities,” said Zach.

“They were able to enjoy the opportunity of taking on two local Portuguese sides in recognised stadiums venues, whilst taking part in adaptable training sessions, as well as sampling the culture and bonding as a team.

“A huge thanks to Easy Sports Solutions for looking after us whilst we were there and providing students the experience of a lifetime.”

The team stayed at Rio Maior Training Centre, a National Olympic Centre; here facilities were varied and of a highly professional standard. The team were allowed use of all facilities such as the gym and the ice baths for recovery – and were as impressive as you’d expect as Brendan Burke and Luke Harrison, students from PNE testified.

“It was all very professional” said Brendan. “From the facilities, right the way through to the coaches. On the pitch, we learned more about formations and tactics which was adapted to our training. It wasn’t just playing football however, we got to sample the culture whilst we were there and enjoyed visits to the Stadium of Light, home of FC Benfica, played beach football and enjoyed the local lagoon.

Luke added: “Even now, we keep discussing the great memories we had and it’s 100 percent made us more of a team. A massive way of developing as a footballer is by taking on different styles of football, and playing against a completely different kind of opposition, it was a huge learning curve for us all and such a unique experience.”

Meanwhile, other members of the education programme enjoyed a trip to Kepplewray Residential Park in Cumbria where they took part in a number of team bonding exercise with both trips looking at heightening the experience of the course whilst building on team spirit amongst the camp.

Both trips proved hugely successful with students finding both trips educational and fun.

Find out more about the Preston North End’s education provision to post 16-year-olds; call 01772 693309 or email Education@pne.com. The course hosts a level two and three diploma in sport and exercise and are actively recruiting for this September’s intake.

Register your interest now and you could be donning the PNE colours abroad next season!

Photography by student, Jack Carysforth.

Studying at Cardiff FC Foundation turns Cheyenne’s life around after dropping school aged 12

Cheyenne Flowers, aged 20, struggled to settle in to mainstream education and suffered with social anxiety. After attending three different high schools and being home schooled for a period, her Mum decided maybe school wasn’t the path for her.

After speaking to Careers Wales, Cheyenne enrolled onto Cardiff FC Foundation’s Strikers Traineeship Programme – a 24-week course designed to engage with disadvantaged young people, gain vocational experiences and relevant qualifications – during this time Chey learnt about the range of educational courses on offer with the Bluebirds.

She said: “I didn’t want to go on the course initially as I was four stone heavier at the time and not particularly into sport.

“The Foundation staff convinced me that the course offered lots of opportunities and that they would support me to achieve what I wanted academically.”

Cheyenne has been studying with the Foundation ever since. She is currently in her second and final year of the BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport and was named Head Girl in 2017.

As part of her development, Chey represented the Foundation at a number of events.

“Speaking in front of people used to be really hard for me, but I’ve been to Foundation Days, the Cardiff Lifestyle Awards and a charity ball in aid of the Foundation.

“I’ve spoken at all of these events so that’s helped me with my anxiety, I feel more confident.”

Cheyenne has now been with the foundation for three years, has a BTEC level 1 and 2 and is just finishing BTEC Level 3 sport, which is equivalent to three A levels.

The qualification includes sports psychology, event management, physiology, current issues and fitness.

With that, Cheyenne has a place to read criminology at Swansea University this September and hopes to work with young people when she graduates.

Following her experiences studying with the Foundation and the influence of the Foundation tutors, Chey would like to one day guide other young people through the Strikers Traineeship.

“When I finish my studies, I’d enjoy teaching the traineeship side of things because I was on the engagement course, so I’ve come all the way since then. I’d use my experiences help people who are in the same situation.”

To find out more about Cardiff City FC Foundation visit: https://www.cardiffcityfcfoundation.org.uk/

Simon Carnall Wins Derby County’s Brian Clough Award

Simon Carnall, Head of Community at Derby County Community Trust, claimed the Brian Clough award at Derby County’s End of Season Awards Dinner, sponsored by McAndrew Utilities, on Tuesday evening.

The award, sponsored by EXEVE, marks the club’s employee of the year and comes just weeks after the Derby County Community Trust were named Checkatrade ‘Community Club of the Year’ at the EFL Awards.

With 24 years of experience under his belt, Simon Carnall claimed the prize following the incredible work he has completed as Head of Community at the Derby County Community Trust.

Having started working in 1994 with “three members of staff, three bags of balls and three stacks of cones” as he puts it himself. Simon has overseen the growth of Derby County’s work in the community to now having 59 staff members, running 35 different programme and turning over £2.5million as one of the region’s biggest and most influential charities.

2017 alone saw the Derby County Community Trust work with over 17000 people on a regular basis and 2018 sees the Trust celebrate ten years as a charity using the power of Derby County Football Club to improve lives through sport, physical activity and education.

Following the announcement, and in his typical style, Simon was quick to credit everyone at the Derby County Community Trust for their involvement. He wrote:

“You can’t win an award like this without the most stunning set of staff. This is a great achievement for everyone at the Derby County Community Trust and I’m proud of you all.”

 

Community Manager Paul Newman was full of praise for Simon:

“Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending the DCFC end of season awards and seeing our Head of Community, and my friend, Simon Carnall, named The Brian Clough Employee of the Year. Whilst unashamedly biased, I firmly believe that no one deserves it more than Si. He’s built the Community Trust up from 3 staff to 59, from a £75k turnover to a £2.5 million turnover but far, far more important has led the Trust with dignity, expertise and drive and has had a positive effective on literally thousands of local people.”

CHASING DREAMS: Former EFL Trust Futsal student signs professional contract with Newport County AFC

Momodou Touray, an 18-year-old striker who took part in the EFL Trust Futsal programme, has signed a professional football contract at Newport County AFC.

Ask anyone close to Momodou to describe what makes him stand out from the rest, they would reply ‘it’s his ambitious and never say die attitude.’

Born in Gambia and raised in Wales, Momodou was attracted to football through the influence of his Father who played at a good standard.

He said: “I used to watch my Dad play at a decent level and I wanted to get into football because I thought if I followed in his footsteps hopefully I’d have a chance to go further than he did.”

At the age of 16, he joined the EFL Trust Futsal programme after being recommended by a friend and watching videos of Rico Zulkarnain, the first Welsh professional futsal player.

“I looked it [futsal] up online and started to follow a player called Rico Zulkarnain on Youtube and Instagram.

“I found him really inspiring so decided to sign up to the County in the Community Futsal and Education programme.”

The youngster believes his time on the Futsal programme was invaluable on his way to signing a professional contract with Newport County AFC.

“Futsal is a fantastic game, and even though some people may look at it differently to football because it’s indoors, you learn so much.

“It really helped me to develop as a player, particularly the technical side, while getting to travel to different places and gain an education was an added bonus.’’

From there, his impressive performances on the Futsal programme led to a call-up to the Welsh U18 futsal team, where he played in fixtures against England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Discussing the experience, he said: “It was a fantastic moment and made me realise that this could just be the beginning.”

After representing his country in futsal for the first time, Momodou signed a two-year scholarship with County’s football Academy.

Impressing Academy Manager Byron Anthony, his performances caught the eye of Wales’ U19 football team.

Byron said: “It was great to see Paul Bodin [Wales U19 Manager] come down and watch Momodou.

“When I went up to see him represent Wales’ U19’s against Switzerland in Rhyl, UEFA delegates were saying, ‘Where has this player been hiding, he’s unbelievable, where is he from?’

“It’s a fantastic feeling for everyone at the club, from the Community Trust to the Academy, to see a player come through the system.”

 

In April 2018, Momodou’s childhood dream came true after signing his first professional contract with The Exiles.

He said: “I was over the moon to sign a professional contract. My family and the staff at the Community Trust and Academy have always believed in me.

“My aim now is to hopefully make my debut in the first team. If I do that then I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to as a kid, and then from there I just want to get better and better.

“I came from the very bottom but it shows that if you work hard you can achieve anything.’’

Dave Lewis, College Programme Co-ordinator at County in the Community, added: “Momodou is a credit to the club.

“The EFL is a very demanding league, but I think his attitude will go far and the attributes he picked up from futsal working in tight areas and holding the ball up will really help him.

“Hopefully the fans will get to see that he thrives in that aspect of the game.”

To find out more about the EFL Trust Futsal programme visit: http://www.efltrust.com/futsal/