ESFA Internationals, featured

Welcome to the ESFA International Programme 2021/22


The ESFA is delighted to announce the start of the ESFA International Programme for 2021/22. The ESFA’s international programme is the pinnacle of what schools’ football has to offer, providing an unforgettable experience for the best Schoolgirls and Schoolboys in the country.

The ESFA boasts two international teams, the England U18 Schoolboys and the England U15 Schoolgirls, both of which are selected after undergoing a rigorous trials process, with the best players from around England playing for the honour of representing their country.

After a year with no international activity due to the pandemic, the ESFA is delighted to be bringing the programme back, and hope this year it will be bigger and better than ever. Below is a rundown of the international programme plans for the 2021/22 season and what’s to come for this season’s international squads and supporters…

Trials Process

The trial process for the England U15 Schoolgirls’ and England U18 Schoolboys’ starts with 4 regional Pro:Direct trials (North, Midlands, South East and South West). The players, who have been nominated by their County Schools’ FA to attend the Pro:Direct trials, will be tested through a set of drills and a competitive game against their fellow nominees. From this event, a squad will be selected to represent their region in stage two of the process. Stage two will see the South West play the South East and the North face off against the Midlands for a spot in the final Pro:Direct trial, forming a North and a South squad to attend. The conclusion of the process will see a squad’s worth of players selected to have the honour of wearing three lions on their shirt for the 2021/22 season for both the U15 Girls’ and U18 Boys’ teams.

Please see a list of Pro:Direct trial dates and venues below:

England U15 Schoolgirls- 

Sunday 10th October 2021- North Pro:Direct Trial– Cochrane Park, Newcastle  

Sunday 10th October 2021- South East Pro:Direct Trial– Rectory Park, Middlesex 

Sunday 10th October 2021- South West Pro:Direct Trial– Millfield School 

Sunday 14th November- North v Midlands– Lilleshall National Sports Centre 

Sunday 14th November- South East v South West– Rectory Park, Middlesex 

Sunday 12th December- Final Pro:Direct Trial– Lilleshall National Sports Centre

England U18 Schoolboys: 

Saturday 23rd October 2021- Midlands Pro:Direct Trial– Lilleshall National Sports Centre 

Sunday 24th October 2021- North Pro:Direct Trial– Cochrane Park, Newcastle 

Sunday 7th November 2021- South East Pro:Direct Trial– Rectory Park, Middlesex 

Sunday 7th November 2021- South West Pro:Direct Trial– Fry’s Club,  Bristol 

Sunday 21st November 2021- South East v South West– Rectory Park, Middlesex  

Sunday 28th November 2021- North vs Midlands– Lilleshall National Sports Centre 

Sunday 19th December 2021- Final Pro:Direct Trial– Lilleshall National Sports Centre 

The final squad will be announced via ESFA social media channels on Monday 13 December (Girls) and Monday 20 December (Boys). Updates on all international activity will be shared via the ESFA’s social channels (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) – just search @SchoolsFootball to follow the ESFA accounts and stay up to date with all events and activity! 

Kit Launch

Following a brand new partnership with Pro:Direct for the 20/21 season, the ESFA will be sharing a special Kit Launch in December, via social media platforms and website, just before the final squads are announced.

The new Pro:Direct partnership will see the ESFA players decked out in Nike kit with a Pro:Direct badge on the sleeve, the ESFA’s 3 lions on the chest and the Energy High5 logo from ESFA partners and front of shirt sponsors, Utilita. Keep an eye on the ESFA’s social channels w/c 6 December for the first reveal!

Kit collection, Opening Fixtures and Training Camps

The England U15 Schoolgirls’ campaign kicks off on Sunday 9th January, where they are expecting to play their first friendly fixture against the ISFA U15 Girls’ squad. This weekend will also host the girls’ kit presentation where the players will receive their kits ahead of their debut match. The ESFA’s 19/20 squad last played ISFA back in January 2020 at Charterhouse School with the match ending in a 2-2 draw.

The England U18 Schoolboys’ are due to play their first fixture of the season against the RAF on Saturday 29th January. The squad will also be presented with their international shirts, a proud moment for all involved. This fixture is a repeat of the U18 schoolboys first fixture in 2020 where the squad came away 4-1 victors!

The squads will then take part in some Preparatory Training Camps over February half term, preparing them for the forthcoming competitive fixtures at the end of the season. More details on training camps will be confirmed during the season.

Centenary Shield and Bob Docherty Cup

The Centenary Shield and Bob Docherty Cup competitions are the centrepiece of the international season for the two squads, with all the build-up and preparation leading to these competitive tournaments.

Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic these tournaments had to be cancelled in 2020 so the ESFA is delighted to be able to welcome the competitions back again this season. The England U18 Schoolboys will compete in the Centenary Shield first hosted in 1973, against the other home nations, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. The trophy is won by the team with the most points at the end of a round robin format, where each nation plays each other over a 6 week period. The ESFA will be hosting two home fixtures this season, keep an eye out for more details on these matches coming soon.

The Bob Docherty Cup, first contested in 2002 is a 3 day tournament for the U15 Girls, hosted by one of the five home nations each year. This year, the prestigious tournament will take place in England in early April. Full details on how you can support the team competing for the ESFA’s 3rd Bob Docherty title will be released in the coming weeks.

More details of both of these competitions will be announced as the season progresses so, stay up to date with ESFA social media channels (@schoolsfootball) and continue to check out for further information throughout the season.

ESFA Internationals, featured

England U18 schoolboys storm to victory in their final fixture as a squad!

A warm afternoon in Newcastle saw England Schoolboys play their final fixture of a disrupted campaign as they put on a great show of attacking football to defeat Harrogate Town Youth Academy at Longbenton. 

The visitors were playing their first fixture as an academy side with the League Two club having only recently set up their development programme and the early exchanges were fairly even as both sides looked to find a foothold in a game, scheduled for three periods of 30 minutes. 

The hosts were playing together for the first time in over a year and were missing a number of players from the original squad selected for the Centenary Shield campaign, but those who were available soon hit their stride. 

Taylor Richardson saw a shot saved by the visiting keeper but the resulting corner saw Charlie Dickerson head home for a 1-0 lead, a pinpoint delivery from Reece Wylie seeing the defender with a free header 6 yards out. 

England had a great chance to double their lead from the spot after Wylie was bundled over in the six yard box to end a surging run down the right. However, skipper Carter Lycett’s spot kick didn’t trouble the keeper or the goal frame as it sailed over the bar. 

The lead was doubled by Kenny Bernal shortly after though, a lovely through ball from Richardson allowed the midfielder to skip round Harvey Giles and fire into an empty net. 

Harrogate were by no means out of the game and pulled a goal back with their first ever academy goal from Finn O’Boyle, slotting under Cameron Pike after a swift counter attack that began with an England corner just 20 seconds earlier. 

Boyle saw a fierce shot flash wide of Pike’s far post before Richardson went close to scoring a third for the hosts, shooting just wide when through on goal after a pinpoint pass from the energetic Wylie. 

Moments later though he did find the net, a long range looping volley over the keeper making it 3-1 shortly before Pike was forced into a finger tip save to deny Joe Dixon from long range and prevent Harrogate pulling a goal back. 

Ollie Waddison fired home from the edge of the box to make it 4-1 with a couple of minutes left in the second period, battling to win the ball back after seeing his shot saved by the keeper before tip toeing along the edge of the box and firing into the far corner. 

In true symmetry England bagged another two goals in the final period of the game with Richardson grabbing his second volleyed goal after a lovely through ball from Ethan Warne to make it 5-1 before Ben Reay, Ethan Warne and David Pereira combined to put Waddison through to complete the 6-1 scoreline in their final outing together. 

Credit to both teams for putting on a display full of energy in very warm conditions, England played some excellent football at times and were always dangerous going forward but the visitors from Harrogate certainly had their moments to keep the game close and will rightly take plenty of positives from their first fixture together as a squad. 

The cap presentations signalled the end of a long international campaign for the lads, an unusual one in the current circumstances but parents and schools can certainly take pride in the achievements of this group of young men – we look forward to seeing their progress as they move into the next stages of their careers and wish them all good luck in whichever path they take.

A big thank you to our photographer Garry Griffiths from 353 photography for capturing the game and writing this report. A gallery from the game will be available shortly.