Throwback Thursday- A trip to Devon for some 21/22 National Schools’ Cup fixtures

For this Throwback Thursday we travel back to the start of the 2021/22 season with ESFA photographer Garry Griffiths (353 Photography) who travelled to the South West of England covering multiple ESFA National Cup fixtures.

“With the world a long way from returning to normal and holiday options away from Britain fraught with complications, we took the decision to have a short break at one of our island’s many options. Having left my wife to determine our destination, she plumped for Torquay with Devon – an area largely unexplored by us – and offering multiple opportunities for me to cover a few early round national cup ties, in one long distance trip.

First up was the Under 16 Boys’ opening round tie at Torquay Grammar School as they welcomed West Exe School on a very wet afternoon on the English Riviera. Traffic issues delayed the visitor’s arrival from Exeter meaning a later kick-off than expected, but it gave me plenty of chance to assess the views around the pitch with a bowl shape on two sides giving an excellent view of the action for the few parents braving the conditions to support.

The home side were quick out of the blocks and having already hit the post early on, they took command of the game in the first half and eventually ran out a deserved 7-2 win, with Charlie Wood scoring a brace.

24 hours later, it was a short trip along the coast to Paignton Community & Sports Academy. Thankfully, the weather was a million miles from the day before, with bright sunshine throughout the day.

Paignton welcomed a strong Ivybridge Community College team in the opening round of the U14 Boys’ Cup and the visitors took control of the game early to race into a healthy lead on the way to a 7-0 victory in the Devon sun. A Burch hat-trick sealing their round 2 place.

Just a day later it was the return of the rain for the Churston Ferrers Grammar School Academy Under 18 Boys’ Cup second round tie with Torquay Academy. Once again, played in pouring rain but on an excellent surface.

With substitutes seeking shelter in the small covered porch of the changing rooms, it was 3 second half goals from the visitors that led them into round 3 after a tight match in testing condition. This would also not the be the last time we see the winners of this fixture either, more of that later in the summer!

Finally, we ended the 4 games in 4 days with a visit to Torquay Academy for their Under 16 Boys’ tie with Hele’s School who had made the 40 mile trip from Plymouth on another sunny Devon afternoon.

The home side scored 4 in each half to secure progress into round 2, where they would meet near-neighbours Torquay Boys Grammar School, just a mile up the road and in the bowl where we kicked off the trip just a few days earlier!

In truth, the final scoreline was harsh on Hele’s who had not only missed chances of their own to pull themselves back into the game but also conceded a flurry of late goals, as they pushed forward trying to reduce the arrears.

As tempting as it was to make the trip back to Devon for that big derby fixture, we had alternative plans to continue our coverage around the country with fixtures coming thick and fast – for the record it was the home side who took the bragging rights with a 3-1 win before eventually exiting themselves at Ivybridge in round 5.

A mix of weather, venues and schools for our first stay away trip of the 2021-2022 season and welcome return to schools football after a year away due to the pandemic. A massive thanks to all the schools involved in these fixtures for allowing us along and maybe we will see you again soon!”

A big thank you to the ESFA’s official photographer for continuing to cover the early round ESFA National Cup fixtures in such great detail. Stay tuned for more Throwback Thursday’s with further coverage of ESFA National Cup fixtures from the 2021-22 season.

Report and images provided by 353 Photography

ESFA Internationals, featured

English Schools’ FA sees record number of Girls’ entries as England Women soar to EURO heights

Girls’ Football continues to grow in schools across England as the ESFA receive record entries for their 2022/23 National Schools’ Cup competitions

This record breaking announcement coincides with the Lionesses’ continued success in the Women’s Euros 2022, where a trio of former England U15 Schoolgirls’ players are thriving on the international stage.

The ESFA has seen the number of girls’ competition entries across the U12 – U18 age groups grow steadily since the introduction of girls’ competitions in 1995. This season, the number has reached its highest level yet with 1,863 teams – up by 160 teams last season, meaning around 28,446 schoolgirls will experience competitive levels of schools’ football in the 2022/23 season.

As advocates for the girls’ game, the ESFA provide a plethora of competitions and opportunities for pupils to get involved in, from their U11 Girls’ Primary Competitions, to their U18 Women’s Super League. The ESFA focused on Girls’ Football for Schools’ Football Week (SFW) in February 2022, which provided an opportunity for over 57,000 schoolgirls to experience some level of schools’ football activity during the campaign.

Thanks to the representative football structure in place across ESFA County and District Schools’ FA’s, the National Governing Body for Schools’ Football also runs an U15 England Schoolgirls’ squad each season. It is fantastic to see former England Schoolgirls, Georgia Stanway, Alessia Russo and Hannah Hampton, taking centre stage as part of the Lionesses’ squad in this year’s Women’s EUROs.

Stuart Botham, ESFA Chair 22/23 said, “The ESFA is delighted to have reached a new record-breaking number of girls’ National Cup entries for the 22/23 season, it is fantastic to see the enthusiasm for girls’ football continue to grow, season after season. The ESFA is very proud of its International Programme for both the U15 Girls’ and U18 Boys’ teams – and I hope that trialists for this season’s Schoolgirls’ squad are inspired by former players, Georgia, Alessia and Hannah, taking the women’s game by storm and heading to Wembley this Sunday.

The ESFA prides itself in striving to create an inclusive environment for all children to have an opportunity to participate in football activity, competitively or otherwise. We hope that this year’s entrants will be inspired by the Lionesses’ success and the ESFA’s opportunities and that they will achieve their goals, strive for improvement and, most importantly, build strong and lasting friendships and relationships through their love of the sport.”

2022 is already proving to be an inspirational year for Women’s football and the Lionesses’ progress to the finals will create yet another platform to engage with young schools’ football players. The Association wishes all the very best to the England Women’s squad for their Final fixture on Sunday.