With the ESFA Super League Draws for the 2021/22 season going live last week, we are looking back at the 2019/20 campaign in anticipation for the competitions return!
The ESFA U18 Super League is the newest Schools’ Cup competition offered by the ESFA. Introduced for the 2019/20 season, it is designed for those schools, colleges and sixth forms which offer a football academy or development programme. The creation of this competition was based on a decision to widen the U18 offering and ensure that students who benefit from regular football training, strength and conditioning and analytics sessions could be included in the competition portfolio.
The Inaugural Super League Season was a huge success, despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic. The group stages kicked off in September with regional groups battling it out for the top two spots and a place in the knockout rounds. On the men’s side, some favourites were quickly established with Park View School dominating the North east region scoring 29 goals along the way and conceding just 9. Wilson’s School were the highest scoring team in the group stage, with 31 goals, however still coming second in their group to a strong Harris City Academy Crystal Palace side. In the women’s competition the ESFA saw some teams shining through early, including Gateshead College, Thomas Telford School and Hartpury College, who kept their sheets sparkling clean going into the knockout stage.
The knockout rounds started after the Christmas break and the competition was heating up, with a spot in the final the goal for the remaining teams. A tight battle in the north saw Park View School scrape through on penalties against a strong Ashton-On-Mersey side, whilst down south, JMA fought off a strong Worthing College team to secure their spot in the semi final. Unfortunately the women’s competition was cut short due to the pandemic and the suspension of schools’ football in March 2020. Thomas Telford School had battled their way to a semi-final clash with Gateshead College whilst three teams remained in the bottom half of the draw, Barking Abbey Academy, St Joseph’s College and John Madejski Academy. It will be interesting to seeing how these teams progress in this season’s competition, to see who will be crowned as the first ESFA Women’s Super League Champions.
On the men’s side, John Madejski Academy booked their place in the final with a win over SEEVIC College and Park View triumphed over a strong Millfield School team in the first featured ESFA Super League match. You can watch the highlights of this semi final here.
The inaugural Men’s U18 Super League Final took place at St Andrews Stadium, home of Birmingham City FC, and saw Park View School take on John Madejski Acadmey. JMA came away winners on the day being crowned the first ever Men’s U18 Super League Champions. The full match report can be viewed here and the match replay is available to watch here.
The ESFA has been delighted with the feedback received from participants in the first year of the competition.
Mr Gamble from Park View School said “We were very impressed with the organisation and professionalism of the tournament. Although COVID had a big impact on spectators, the final itself was a brilliant occasion for our School / Sports Academy. We had over 1000 pupils watching the live stream which was brilliant for our players who were like superstars in the school.”
We cannot wait for the ESFA Super League to get back underway next season and see the best schools’ football teams from around the country battling it out! Check out this year’s groups and fixtures here.