Aspiring young footballers from English, Welsh and Scottish coalfield communities came together recently to compete in the 13th Coalfields Regeneration Trust Home Internationals tournament.
England’s Denaby 5ives were set for an easy victory after reaching the grand final without losing a single match, but were pipped to the post in a 1-0 victory for Scotland’s winning team, The Blue Brazil.
But it was Denaby 5ive’s captain, 16-year old Cameron Till, who walked away as ‘Boys Player of the Tournament’ for wowing coaches with his determination, footwork and goal-scoring skills.
Meanwhile, Tredegar Women and Girls FC from Wales narrowly beat Central FC from Scotland 1-0 in the final to take home the girl’s trophy.
The annual tournament was funded by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and delivered by their award-winning sports programme, Game On, with the aim of bringing together young people from deprived coalfield communities across the UK to raise their aspirations. England’s Denaby 5ives team came from young people from Game Ons Denaby Football 5ives sessions, which provides teenagers with free turn up and play football on Friday nights at the Tom Hill Centre, which is jointly funded through the Yorkshire Sports Foundation’s Satellite Clubs initiative.
Twelve football teams, made up of girls and boys aged between 14-16 years from former UK mining communities, took part in the tournament on 4 August at the prestigious City Football Academy – which was the training ground of Manchester City’s first team.
Kat Clarke, Development Manager for Game On England, said: “This year’s final took things to the next level. Not only were we in an amazing venue used by professional footballers, but we also had some of the best teams we’ve ever seen take to the pitch.
“Bringing together boys and girls to compete showed that football can be inclusive, and knowing how hard each team played made them all winners in their own right.
“Cameron made a real impression from the start and was commended for his skills and ability on the pitch. We’re so pleased he was named Boys Player of the Tournament, and hope he puts his trophy in a place where his whole family can be proud of it.”
Game On uses football as a platform to improve the general health and fitness of young people living in coalfield communities. It also teaches players about teamwork, communication and the opportunities that the sport presents, such as coaching and progressing to a professional level.
Kat concluded: “Game On is more than just fitness, it’s about inspiring young people to achieve their absolute best. The fact that Dan James, the player that was recently sold by Swansea to Manchester United for £15m, took part in the Wales Football 5ives sessions and the Home Internationals Tournament back in 2014, shows that anything is possible.”
The full results table can be found at https://homeinternationals.torneopal.com/. For more information about Game On and how to take part in regular training sessions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.