featured, Girls' Football, National Competitions, Sponsors and Partners

The ESFA & Pokémon launch the Pokémon Primary Schools’ Cup

The English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) and The Pokémon Company International announce the launch of the Pokémon Primary Schools’ Cup 

The 22/23 Schools’ Football season has kicked off with a brand-new partnership between the ESFA and Pokémon, forming the inaugural season of the Pokémon Primary Schools’ Cup. The multi-year partnership will see Pokémon providing opportunities for over 5,000 school teams and over 50,000 players across three competitions for mixed teams, girls’ teams and small schools’ teams.  

The U11 Schools’ Cup, U11 Girls’ Cup and U11 Small Schools’ Cup competitions provide a pathway for teams to progress through three rounds of competition. Beginning in local, District rounds, successful teams then go on to compete in County rounds, then one of four Regional Finals, which take place in the North, Midlands, South East and South West of England. The top 6 teams from each Regional Final will have the opportunity to travel to the National Finals in May, where the National Champions of each competition will be crowned.  

The Pokémon Schools’ Cup competitions embrace and promote the ESFA’s “15 Benefits” of schools’ football including, but not limited to,  

  • Providing opportunities to develop positive relationships 
  • Helping children to feel they are part of a team 
  • Encouraging teamwork 
  • Teaching respect 

The Pokémon Company International is on a mission to delight their fans through excellent products and meaningful experiences. They hope to help make the world a better place for everyone by creating opportunities to bond and grow through shared journeys and friendly competition. Peter Murphy, Senior Director of Marketing at the Pokémon Company International said, “We’re incredibly excited to now be part of this long-standing competition and hope young trainers from schools all over the country will take part, to enjoy their own shared journey, making new friends and memories along the way”.  

Stuart Botham, ESFA Chair (22/23) said, “On behalf of the English Schools’ FA, I am delighted to see the Association and Pokémon embarking on this new journey together, to provide such fantastic opportunities for primary school pupils across England. To be able to align our activity with a brand that resonates so positively with children is wonderful and I am looking forward to seeing how this partnership develops over the coming seasons”.  

Competition and event updates will be shared on the ESFA Website and across social channels throughout the coming months. Make sure you use #Pokemonschoolscup and tag @schoolsfootball in all your results.

Girls' Football, Sponsors and Partners

Visit from former Lioness helps Stoke Poges School celebrate girls’ football

This summer, the ESFA and Panini partnered up in a variation to their usual Classroom Challenge activity to celebrate girls’ football, ahead of the Women’s EUROs.

Over 500 schools registered girls’ football activity as part of the ESFA’s Schools’ Football Week in February 2022. To reward their dedication, Panini offered them the opportunity to receive UEFA™ Women’s EURO England 2022 Official Sticker Collection goodies and the chance to be entered into a ballot to win a football kit for their school.

Stoke Poges School from Slough were the lucky winners, and in the new school year they received a visit from Panini plus former England Women and Arsenal player Faye White to celebrate their success! The whole school enjoyed a Panini assembly, delving into the rich history of the iconic company, followed by a Q&A session with Faye White – helping to further inspire pupils to achieve their footballing dreams.

Mark O’Donnell, football co-ordinator at Stoke Poges School, said, “We were surprised, delighted and truly grateful when the ESFA contacted us with news that we had been awarded a brand-new Panini-sponsored football kit following our support and efforts in encouraging more girls to play football at Stoke Poges School. For the school to then be able to welcome Faye White, a true Arsenal and England captain and legend, into our school to discuss her career, her challenges, answer our questions so brilliantly and then present our superb new kit, has left an incredible impression on every pupil in the school and will inspire them for years to come. Thank you very much to the ESFA and Panini for this fantastic prize and we will wear our new kit with pride!”

Nick Clark, Special Projects Editor at Panini said, “It was such a great morning, getting to share how we make Panini stickers and trading cards with the children from Stoke Poges School. Not only did they win a new kit, but they also got to meet England and Arsenal legend Faye White, and asked lots of brilliant questions. We hope the team enjoys playing in their new Panini-sponsored shirts, and best of luck for their games ahead.”

The ESFA and Panini have been working in partnership for a number of years with primary schools across England, promoting the importance of schools’ football not just on the pitch or the playground, but in the classroom too. The Panini Classroom Challenge has seen thousands of schools receive worksheets and goodies, allowing schools the opportunity to use Panini items as part of a reward system, and giving pupils the chance to win cash for their school by designing creative artwork across a variety of themes.

Stuart Botham, ESFA Chair, said, “The partnership between the ESFA and Panini allows our organisations to create opportunities for primary-school children in England to gain a different understanding of football within the classroom – something that is strongly connected to the ESFA’s mission. We were delighted to see the creation of an ESFA- and Panini-branded football kit this year and to be able to use this to reward Stoke Poges School for their dedication to growing girls’ football within their community. To have Faye White in attendance at the school was another fantastic addition to the presentation, too. We hope they continue to keep up the good work and that this story may help to inspire other schools to do the same.

Faye White, former Arsenal and England legend, helped the school to celebrate the occasion by taking part in a Q&A with pupils. She said, “What a great morning it was getting to meet all the pupils at Stoke Poges, along with answering some brilliant questions from some of the pupils.  It’s amazing to see so many girls taking part in the girls’ football team and I am sure they are going to look and feel great in the new kit they won from Panini. Hopefully it will inspire them to put in some great performances in the rest of their games this year. It was lovely to spend some time with the team and hear about all the reasons they love playing the game.”

The latest Classroom Challenge is in full swing across the country, with colourful entries flying in from schools, as pupils take up the challenge to design a sticker album cover. The competition will close on Friday 14 October, with one lucky winner securing a cash prize for their school. Follow the ESFA on social channels for updates on the winning design and, if you would like your primary school to be involved in future Panini Classroom Challenge activities, you can contact the team on paninicomp@schoolsfa.com.