ESFA Internationals

Exciting Events for England v ROI at Eastleigh FC

  • 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.”

ESFA Internationals

England U18 Schoolboys 2 – 1 Notts County Academy

England U18 Schoolboys’ successful in their training camp friendly, arranged by ESFA sports tour partners, inspiresport

The England Schoolboys continued their training camp activity with a hard earned 2-1 win over Notts County on the Sir Alf Ramsay pitch at St Georges Park on Friday 25 February.

The opening half was one of frustration for England as they faced a tough opponent who were asking plenty of questions all over the park, with the England lads struggling to make any inroads offensively in the early stages.

Jack Bates saw his free-kick from 25 yards out blocked by the wall, with Josh Stones next to threaten as he ran at the defence and created space before firing over. Stones then turned provider with a neat back heel into the path of Alfie Dean, but the striker was denied by the impressive Notts keeper.

Jakub Hebda’s looping effort was saved by the keeper before Notts took the lead, a cross into the box wasn’t dealt with and the striker side footed into the net. Just before the break, Stones had an opportunity but was again denied by the keeper.

The second half saw a number of changes and England became more dangerous from the off. Demico Burton’s shot drifting just wide before Noah Carney had a low shot saved by the keeper down to his left.

Good work from Burton set up Carney for another shot, which the keeper dealt with before Freddie Legg surged down the right and laid the ball across the box on a plate for Bailey Hall to side foot home from 4 yards out.

Ashton Fox turned and shot over the bar from 12 yards out, following a cross into the box, while Carney was again testing the keeper before Josh Mazfari made a couple of good saves to prevent Notts going back in front.

With Stones back on, he tested the keeper with a shot from a narrow angle before turning provider, heading down the left and crossing for Carney to finally find a way past the Notts keeper – steering the ball home from close range. Stones saw a low shot turned round the post by the keeper a minute later, with the last of the goalmouth action before the final whistle.

All in all an excellent test for the lads against a strong opponent with a strong and energetic second half performance turning round the half time deficit.

Thanks to Notts County for travelling over, some excellent players on show and they more than played their part in an entertaining match – we wish them well for the remainder of the season.

The England U18 Schoolboys’ next friendly fixture is Sunday 6 March against their ISFA counterparts at Shrewsbury School. The ESFA would like to wish the squad the very best of luck for this fixture.

Match report and photos supplied by 353 Photography