Sixteen primary schools from Essex, Kent and our local boroughs of Waltham Forest, Hackney, Newham and Redbridge gathered on the SCORE Leisure Centre’s 3G football pitch recently to compete in the Area finals of the Kinder+sport Football League’s prestigious Kids Cup where the winners would go forward to represent Leyton Orient at the regional final and a chance to play at Wembley Stadium.
The nationwide competition provides clubs with the chance to engage with local schools and promote their work within the local community and gives the chance to over 20,000 children each season to participate and be part of an incredible experience culminating in the chance to make a dream come true!
Playing in groups of four in a round-robin format, the winner of each group then formed the semi-finals with Aldersbrook from Redbridge taking on Yardley from Chingford and Henry Moore from Harlow facing another Chingford-based side, Larkswood.
Both games were tight affairs with Yardley taking their place in the final thanks to a last minute goal and defeating Aldersbrook 2-1 whilst the other game was decided on penalties after a 0-0 draw, Henry Moore victorious with three conversions to two.
Once again, with both teams well matched, the finalists could not be separated and after a goalless game, Yardley took the honours with a 5-4 penalty win. Yardley will now have the added incentive of trying to emulate last year’s winners of the Kids Cup, Chase Lane Primary, also from Chingford, who won the cup, beating their counterparts from Nottingham school (representing Notts County) 1-0 prior to the League One play-off final.
Deputy Head at Yardley and team manager Chris Evans said: “We were disappointed in previous seasons and lost in the area final last year but to finally make it is superb. We are determined to reach Wembley and will be training hard to give the players and the school a day they will remember. The competition prize is incredible and we are very proud to be representing Leyton Orient.”
The school will now travel to Swindon later this month for the regional finals and take on clubs from the southern region of League One including Peterborough, Bristol City and Gillingham.
“It’s going to be a long day, as we have to be there by 9.45am so a very early start, ” commented Leyton Orient Community Liaison Officer Howard Gould. “But if the outcome is the same as last year it will all be worth it. The prize of playing on the Wembley pitch for an 11-year-old is just hard to believe for some of the kids but after experiencing the whole thing with Chase Lane last season, I can state, it is a truly wonderful day.
“I’m pleased Yardley are representing us this year as they have been so close in recent seasons and are a good, solid team so I’m really looking forward to the competition. I’m sure they will give a good account of themselves and for the O’s and who knows; we may be visiting Wembley again!”
We would like to wish Yardley the very best of luck in their attempt to reach Wembley.
* Yardley, in yellow shirts, are pictured receiving their Kids Cup Area Final Trophy from O’s striker Kevin Lisbie, CEO Alessandro Angelieri, CEO of Leyton Orient Trust Neil Taylor and mascot Theo.