- England U18 Schoolboys set to continue their inspiresport Centenary Shield campaign at Eastleigh FC
- Utilita & Pro:Direct to provide stadium activity prior to kick off
- The match will be livestreamed via the BBC Sport app and website and via the ESFA’s YouTube channel, ESFA TV and David James MBE will co-commentate
The English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) will stage its second competitive home international fixture of 2022, at Eastleigh FC’s Silverlake Stadium on Friday 8 April 2022, bringing together the England U18 Schoolboys and their Republic of Ireland counterparts in the inspiresport Centenary Shield.
The match, which will be England’s third fixture in the Centenary Shield competition, will see Eastleigh FC’s Silverlake Stadium host this eagerly awaited fixture between two neighbouring nations.
The England side kicked off their season with a 4-1 win over the RAF at Rectory Park in Middlesex in January 2022, following with a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace U18s and a 2-1 win against Notts County U18s in February. The squad then threw themselves into a 4-day training camp at St George’s Park, provided by ESFA sports tour provider, inspiresport, before taking on their ISFA counterparts at Shrewsbury School on the 6th March, ending in a 3-3 draw.
Richy Alderson, England U18 Team Manager, said: “I am very happy with the short journey we have had so far, prior to the Centenary Shield games. The squad have all contributed to some good performances and results. We have played some very good football in the attacking third and it’s encouraging to see different goal scorers. The squad and management team are all very much looking forward to the challenges ahead and I am sure all of the players will benefit from the experience and develop into better footballers and better people. I believe we have the squad to win the Centenary Shield this season, but we need to prove this by aiming to win every game. This would be an amazing achievement in my final year as manager of the England U18 Schoolboys.”
Kenny Amor, Eastleigh FC Chairman said: “We are really pleased to be hosting an England Schools’ international for the second time in the club’s history, with our first in 2015. It shows how much we’re growing as a club to be selected for another international fixture and we are looking forward to welcoming both England and the Republic of Ireland in April 2022.
“As a club that prides itself on the development of youth players, it is fantastic to have some of the best U18 Schoolboy talent playing at the Silverlake Stadium.”
The match will celebrate the ESFA’s partnership with its Official Energy Partner – Utilita, after waiting patiently for two years for play to recommence. The vital partnership enables the ESFA to heighten the coverage of its international activity for the England U15 Schoolgirl and England U18 Schoolboy squads. Utilita is the official front of shirt sponsors for this season’s kit – emblazoning all 36 players with its Energy High 5 message, helping households to save as much as £332 on their home energy bills.
Bill Bullen, Utilita’s Founder and CEO comments on the importance of the match: “After waiting patiently for two years it’s great to finally see our partnership with Eastleigh FC and the ESFA finally come to fruition. As a company we strongly believe in powering sporting communities and are improving access through our support of ESFA and Football Rebooted, which is now featured in 500 clubs and schools.
“We look forward to a full calendar of fixtures, and from what we have seen so far, the U18 Schoolboys look to have what it takes to go all the way.”
Tickets and activities
Tickets are on sale via Eastleigh FC’s website with prices at just £5 for adults and £3 for children.
Attendees are invited to bring along a pair of unused football boots, which will be recycled and made available to players who need them most, via Utilita’s Football Rebooted campaign. Already recognised as football’s biggest ever environmental movement, the star-studded campaign which was kicked off by former England and Premier League goalkeeper, David James MBE, aims to save at least one million pairs of boots from landfill.
There will be a variety of activities for fans to participate in, including the chance to discover some of the latest and greatest football innovation at the Pro:Direct Soccer Trial Van, where fans can have a quick game of FIFA as they get into the matchday spirit. Utilita’s Football Rebooted activation will task fans to show off their best ball skills, too.
Eastleigh FC’s Community team have been hosting football tournaments for local primary schools in the run up to the fixture on the 8th April. The winners of these competitions will be invited along to the stadium to become mascots and ball boys/girls with the runners up being Guard of Honour on the day. The club has been delighted to be able to support the activity in this way, helping to create yet more of a local buzz for the upcoming event. A dozen teams supported the tournaments held last month and a delighted Gazz Davison, Head of Community at Eastleigh FC commented ‘It was excellent to get a number of schools involved in these competitions which happened in March. The standard of football was very good with the girls’ final having to go to a penalty shoot out to decide the winners.’
Those fans who are unable to travel to the Silverlake Stadium on the 8th April, will still be able to watch the action live, with it being broadcast simultaneously on the BBC Sport app and website and the ESFA’s YouTube channel, ESFA TV with David James MBE as co-commentator.
ESFA Chairman, Mark Hignett said “We are delighted to finally be in a position to celebrate the partnership in place between the ESFA and Utilita and it’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to showcase this at Utilita’s local club, Eastleigh FC.
The ESFA is very much looking forward to working with the club in order to create a fantastic experience for players, their families, spectators, guests and viewers alike.”
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.