Under 14 Schools Tri Nations Girls Championship – Rod Houston Cup

For the fourth year this competition was held at Lilleshall Hall National Sports Centre, Shropshire, providing excellent accommodation and facilities for the four schools taking part.  The competing schools were:

Shenfield High School (England), Carndonagh Community School (Republic of Ireland), Ysgol Glan Clwyd (Wales) and Crompton House CofE School (England).

The Irish girls were first to arrive after an early flight from Belfast and the pronouncement, ‘It’s a castle,’ certainly showed their approval.  A tour of the grounds sampling the outdoor vines on the way certainly impressed.  By 1:30 all teams were in attendance and ready to start the first series of games.

Crompton House took the lead in the first game but it was short lived as Carndonagh replied within a minute.  The English girls scored again in the 16th minute but were unable to hold the lead for long as Carndonagh equalised again three minutes before half time.  The Irish girls gradually took a hold on the match early in the second half and a further goal four minutes from time saw them worthy winners.

The second game between Shenfield and Glan Clwyd was also a closely contested affair.  Shenfield went ahead shortly before half time only to see the determined girls of Glan Clwyd pull one back shortly after the restart.  It was end to end with both defences and goalkeepers working hard until Shenfield eventually broke the deadlock with just three minutes to go.  Two excellent games to start the competition!

For day two we had been promised a deluge by the weather forecasters so it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun beaming down.  Shenfield v Carndonagh in the first game promised to be a tight contest but the edge was slightly taken off the game when Abbie Harding, the Shenfield ‘keeper, injured her hand in the warm up and had to be replaced by reluctant volunteer, Amye Swinney.  Whilst the Shenfield girls were coming to terms with their reorganisation Carndonagh took full advantage and raced to a two goal lead within four minutes but were competently held at bay for the rest of the half.  The second half started in the same way as the first, two further goals in four minutes!  Shenfield determinedly battled on and Amye put in a brave performance but were unable to penetrate the Irish defence.

The game between Glan Clwyd and Crompton House was a much closer contest.  Glan Clwyd opened the scoring in the 21st minute only to see an equaliser scored on the stroke of half time.  The two teams gave their all in search of a second goal and the match seemed destined for a draw until Cora Belle broke clear to hit the back of the net with minutes to go.

Both games on day 3 kicked off at the same time with Carndonagh only needing a draw to win the competition for Ireland.  Shenfield and Crompton House each needed to win to share the Championship should Glan Clwyd grab the points in their game.  Tense stuff.

Crompton House took the lead in the 10th minute only for Shenfield to pull back before half time.  The girls from Essex then went on to score two more in the second half ensuring they finished in fine form.  Glan Clwyd were showing real determination against a strong display from Carndonagh who finally cracked the defence just on the break to take a half time lead.   The girls in green went further ahead shortly after the restart but were pegged back following a flowing move which put Megan Galeandro through to finish in style.  The game was finally put to bed when goal scoring machine Ailish Doherty scored her sixth of the competition.

At the presentation ceremony following the conclusion of the competition, SAFIB Executive Committee member Mr Alex Harkin congratulated all of the girls on their skills and determination to do their best for their schools.  He mentioned that every player should be proud that they had not only represented their school but also their country.  It was with great pride that he was able to present the Rod Houston Cup to Carndonagh Community School.  

The Nigel Brown Award for the player of the tournament was once again presented by Carol Brown, Nigel’s widow.  There were a number of players in consideration; Ellie Long had been outstanding for Cardonagh and Ailish Doherty had scored in every game, Elise Jennings had been influential throughout and Amye Swinney, as stand in goalkeeper for two games, had helped Shenfield considerably.  Cora Belle, Crompton House, had continuously caused problems for opposition defences but the judges eventually decided upon the bravery and acrobatic skills of Cardi Doran in the Glan Clwyd goal as being an outstanding feature of the tournament.

A big thank you to all the staff involved.

Once again this competition for U14 girls has proved to be a success where football, friendship and appreciation of others efforts have come to the fore.  Looking forward to next year…

ESFA Internationals, featured

English Schools’ FA International season kicks off for 2019-2020

The ESFA will begin their search for this season’s most talented Schools’ Footballers, with a view to presenting them with the opportunity to earn honours caps by representing their country in the 2019-2020 Schools’ Football season.

U15 Girls’ regional trials will commence next weekend (Sunday 13 October) searching for talented players from across the whole of England, with events taking place in the North, Midlands, South East and South West. Trialists for the boys’ squad won’t be far behind, with their initial regional trial opportunities commencing on the 19 October in the North and 20 October in the Midlands, followed by 27 October in the South East and 3 November in the South West.

These trials will present an opportunity for nominated players to impress selectors before heading to the next stage of the process. Simply by being nominated to take part in regional trials, players have already achieved the honour of being recognised by their county, having been put forward for the opportunity to play internationally by proving their capability of playing both individually and as part of a team. 

The international squads are made up of the best players in Schools’ Football in England. Players are chosen based upon their talent, after making their way through a strict nomination process. Those who are successful in completing the entire trials process will go on to represent their country in 2020. Once selected, this season’s U18 England Schoolboys squad, following some friendly matches, will go on to play in the Centenary Shield against Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and similarly, the U15 England schoolgirls will take part in the Bob Docherty tournament, which last year was held in Salou, Spain.

Since 1904 English Schools’ Football Association has been the governing body for schools football across England and has run International squads since 1907. The Association boasts crowds of 95,000 spectators at Wembley on multiple occasions at the height of the U15 international representative boys’ team.  The ESFA are proud of their remit as an educational organisation, to be able to reward individuals, particularly at U18 level, who choose to remain in mainstream education as opposed to opting to join the academy system. There are deeply rooted values in education for ESFA and this is a way to celebrate players who have chosen to build a secure foundation for themselves with qualifications, wherever their football careers may take them.

You will be able to follow this year’s International Schools’ Football action via the ESFA’s social media channels as we follow trialists on their journey from nomination to selection. We wish all those nominated the very best of luck and are very much looking forward to welcoming two new squads into the ESFA honours list for 2019-20.