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.


Match Report: England U15 Schoolgirls v Wales

Under 15 Friendly International – Sunday 9th May 2021
Colliers Park, Wrexham

Wales 2 – 6 England

Wales v England in a Under 15 Schoolgirls International Friendly match at Colliers Park on Sunday 9th May 2021 (c) Garry Griffiths | ThreeFiveThree Photography

England’s Under 15 Schoolgirls returned to action with a blistering attacking performance against Wales on Sunday with Megan Sofield leading the way with a hat-trick!

Rebecca Ferguson captained the side and led her team out at Colliers Park for their first match since returning from Dublin with the John Read Trophy a mere 429 days ago, although the break didn’t seem to have affected their confidence as the girls opened the scoring with almost their first attack.

Lucy Cooper saw her shot saved by the Welsh keeper but as the ball rolled towards the goal Poppy Pritchard was on hand to smash in the opening goal. Moments later, the lead was doubled as Cooper’s shot was too strong for the home keeper and England were off to a dream start.

The half somehow ended with no further goals but with the Welsh keeper certainly the busier, with Delphi Cole shooting just wide and both Pritchard, Cooper and Sofield proving a real handful for the Welsh defence.

The second half started exactly like the first with two quick fire goals. Megan Sofield took advantage of a mistake in the Welsh defence to make it 3-0 and followed it up with a long range effort for her 2nd and England’s 4th.

Wales pulled a goal back following a scramble in the 6 yard box but almost immediately, Pritchard scored her 2nd of the game, surging through the defence and firing home from a tight angle. Again Wales fought back and grabbed a second to pull back to 5-2 and had arguably their best spell of the game with only a flying save from Aimie Flood preventing them edging closer still.

As the grey clouds rolled over to spoil an afternoon of perfect weather in North Wales, all that was left was for Sofield to complete the scoring with her hat-trick goal late on and cap a fantastic day for her and the squad overall.

Next up is a trip to Newcastle-upon-Tyne for a match with Scotland in June and we can only hope that the girls pick up where they left off in Wrexham.

The upcoming England U16 Schoolgirls’ match against Scotland on Saturday 5 June, will be live streamed online via the ESFA’s YouTube channel, ESFA TV. More details will be shared via the ESFA online in the coming weeks.

Match report & photo credits: 353 Photography