National Schools' Football Week, The World of Schools' Football

Schools’ Football; the best time of your life

Why Stephen Warnock is a fantastic Ambassador for Schools’ Football

The English Schools’ FA (ESFA) kicked off the second National Schools’ Football Week, in association with the PlayStation Schools’ Cup on Monday; by facilitating former Liverpool and England star, turned pundit, Stephen Warnock’s return to his high school in Ormskirk. To mark the end of this incredible week, we’re sharing with you Stephen’s glowing memories of his time playing Schools’ Football.

Warnock, who represented his school, his district and his county, progressing to earn an England cap in the ESFA U15 Schoolboys’ squad alongside Leon Osman and Joe Cole during his teenage years, reflected back on some of the “best times” of his footballing life.

Describing St Bedes School in Ormskirk as “ultra supportive”, during his interview Stephen frequently reminisced that his school friends and teachers had helped drive him to work hard and become the best footballer he could be – helping to sculpt him for his professional career at clubs such as Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and within the England squad.

Stephen recounted to the ESFA just how important he felt schools’ football was to him as a developing player. The TV pundit insisted that if he could turn back the clock to playing football at any point, it would be to his school days – describing how it was him and his “best friends playing football together week in, week out” and that “there was no better thing”. Even as a teenager, Stephen was so dedicated to schools’ football that whilst playing for the Liverpool FC academy, he was told to stop playing for his school in order to concentrate on his academy training; Stephen refused to do so and managed to negotiate with the academy to allow him to continue training for Liverpool whilst still playing with his friends at school. Stephen went on to air his frustrations at children playing for academies missing out on the opportunity to continue to play for their school teams saying “they’re the best days of your life. They’re what make you a footballer, they’re what make you enjoy football. If you don’t have those days, then for me, there’s no point in playing.”

National Schools’ Football Week was introduced in 2018 in association with the ESFA PlayStation Schools’ Cup, as a celebration of the fantastic work carried out within schools and colleges across England. Hundreds of schools supported the first campaign and over 300 schools have again registered their interest in this year’s event. Stephen Warnock, who played at every conceivable level of schools’ football, is the perfect ambassador for not only his former school in Ormskirk, but also for the work carried out by the English Schools’ FA and their volunteer workforce; season after season. With over 73,000 teams taking part in schools’ football activity in the 2017-18 season, the ESFA and its wealth of activity and competitions only continues to grow.

Check out our full interview with Stephen over on our YouTube channel, ESFA TV.

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