National Competitions, Sponsors and Partners

Hale Primary School to enjoy prize at Southampton FC

Hale primary win the ESFA Danone Nations Cup…

The players from Hale Primary School claimed the title of ESFA Danone Nations Cup U11 Small Schools National Champions back in May, following the National Finals held at Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The team, who had already been successful throughout the District, County and Regional rounds of the competition, had the chance to experience playing and indeed, winning on a fantastic stadium set up in May as the National Finals took centre stage at the Ricoh Arena.

The team will now get the chance to celebrate their win, Premier League style, having been awarded a fantastic match day experience at Southampton FC this Saturday 27 October, for Southampton’s home match against Newcastle. The players will experience a day in Southampton’s new Matchday Bistro hospitality lounge. This experience will consist of a tour or the stadium, unparalleled insight into the club with talks from coaches and nutritionists, a 2-course meal, gifts for the children as mementos and not forgetting, the opportunity to enjoy all the match day atmosphere of a Saints fixture!


For Hale School, the test of becoming National Champions was no small feat! The small school, that consists of only 15 pupils per year group, were triumphant in their success, particularly in view of them not having a school field but instead training for their fixtures on a green which was shared with ponies and cattle. Despite this, the team succeeded in overcoming its challenges, and challengers, making their way to the final round of the National Cup and winning!

The Danone Nations Cup is the world’s biggest international football tournament for 10-12 year olds , with 32 countries participating every year. The ESFA Danone Nations Cup competition is the England leg of this competition, providing competitions for schools, small schools, district and girls teams to get involved in.

The ESFA and Danone would like to wish Hale Primary school winners a truly memorable day, celebrating their success and give special thanks to Southampton FC for providing the team with this fantastic and unique opportunity.


Sponsors and Partners, The World of Schools' Football

ESFA continues partnership with Mark Harrod Ltd

English Schools FA in `Seven Heaven` as Mark Harrod Ltd renews official supplier status

Sports equipment designer and manufacturer Mark Harrod Ltd has renewed its partnership with the English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA).

The third season supporting the national governing body of school and college football as Official Goalpost Supplier sees the leading supplier once again poised to provide a host of 7-a-side goals to the ESFA’s national finals climax next May.

Before the tie-up with Mark Harrod Ltd, the Association had to assemble plastic `kit` goals to meet its requirement. “We transported them in cars and they had to be assembled every time we used them,” recalls ESFA Competitions Manager Darren Alcock. “We spent a lot of time on the morning of the event piecing the goals together, which is time we could have spent organising other aspects of our showpiece events.”

“The 7-a-side goals Mark Harrod Ltd provide come fully assembled in aluminium for greater strength, with nets and counterweights, so are good to go as soon as we arrive at the finals venue.”

Those venues are often at the elite end of the national game – Stoke City FC’s bet365 Stadium in Mark Harrod’s first season of support in 2016-2017, then Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena last year.

“We are wary of risking damage to the pitches of top clubs,” Darren adds, “so the counterweights avoid having to secure the goals with anchor pins.”

The goalposts are utilised for the ESFA’s Danone Nations Cup U11 7-a-side competitions, culminating with four National Finals, usually in May. Teams compete within the Association’s small schools, schools’ cup, girls’ schools, and inter-association (district) competitions. The fixtures progress from district, then county, to regional level before finalists battle it out for what is a memorable day for every competitor.

“The events involve thousands of children,” explains the Association’s PR and Communications Executive Sarah Kearney. “Each winning team receives Premiership tickets and last year, the winning school, sited near the Etihad Stadium, was given the Blue Carpet treatment by Manchester City FC. They were interviewed by BBC Radio and videoed – an unforgettable day for them all.”

Transportation of equipment is a key issue for the ESFA and here too, Mark Harrod Ltd’s partnership with the Association comes into its own. Under their support for the U11 Danone Nations Cup national 7-a-side competitions, the company has one of its van fleet on standby to ferry goals, as well as cornerposts, to the finals venue. “Vans are large enough to hold the goals fully assembled,” explains Mike Bugajski, Mark Harrod Ltd Head of Sales, “so they arrive ready to roll out at the venues.


“Finals for all four competitions are staged simultaneously, following division of the venue pitch into quadrants. The ESFA needs at least eight in one place therefore and that’s when transport is critical,” Mike says.

The 2019 climax holds special significance, Sarah adds. “The winners of the Inter-association tournament from both this season (2018) and next will compete in Barcelona at the Danone World Cup Finals, along with the two winning Girls’ teams, for the first time in ESFA and Danone Nations Cup history,” she reveals.

Mike Bugajski, Mark Harrod Ltd Head of Sales, adds: “Helping young people to participate and excel at football is a great privilege, especially when we can witness them triumph in national tournaments that will prove a milestone in their sporting lives.”

Relevant links

The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.