A pioneering Bury-based youth football league has been celebrated with more than 200 children testing out their skills during a school festival.
Two tournaments held back-to-back at King Edward VI Upper School gave children, firstly in Years 3 and 4 (under-9s), and then in Year 5 (under-10s), a chance to express themselves in new positions on May 21.
It formed the end of a three-tournament celebration of the debut season of the Suffolk Football Association (FA)-run WAYS league for under-10s, which aims to bridge the gap between school and club football.
There were 12 five-a-side teams playing in a festival for schools from the Bury area ahead of eight teams of club sides playing seven-a-side games.
In line with FA rules being extended up to under-11s games, results were not strung together, with all teams getting the chance to play each other.
One of the organisers of the Suffolk WAYS League, and assistant head of WAYS partner King Edward VI Upper School, Rob Walden, said the three festivals held at the Bury school had been a great success and they were already planning on repeating the format next year.
“We certainly had plenty of participation, borne out by the sheer number of children who came along,” he said. “For many children who don’t already play in clubs, this is a great way of getting them inspired in the lead up to the World Cup.
“Children are naturally competitive and will try to win every game they can.
“But the FA philosophy allows teams to focus on each game individually, using the final scoreline as one of a number of other key indicators such as number of passes, tackles, and shots.
“Each game can be taken in its own right, and the focus can stay on trying out new positions and learning from mistakes, even if those mistakes result in a loss as the slate is wiped clean for the next game”.
He added: “We want to thank Sporting ‘87 for everything they have done this year, in terms of their pioneering development of the WAYS league alongside The FA, to Bury Town for their input into the festivals”.
The Suffolk WAYS League will be expanding next year to incorporate an under-11s league, as well as continuing to run the existing under-10s.
n Any Year 4 and 5 players interested in playing in the league next season should contact Suffolk FA’s Nathan French by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling him on 07432 735987.