It is now an annual occurrence that over 2000 primary schools enter the prestigious Football League Kids Cup competition representing every league club across the country and that after successfully overcoming the Club and Regional stages, the ultimate dream prize of playing the final on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium became reality.
And now, the whole thing is about to start again across the divisions, each league club hosting its area competition to find which under 11’s school team will be representing them this season.
Just the season before last, Leyton Orient were the proud winners of the Kids Cup when Chase Lane primary school from Chingford defeated their counterparts from Notts County in an exciting prelude to the League One play-off final.
Howard Gould, Leyton Orient Community Liaison Officer, said: “The Wembley experience was unbelievable. A stadium tour was included in the prize and we were in the adjacent changing room to the O’s first team, so all a bit surreal. The whole journey was incredible. I remember the buzz around the school teams when I announced at the initial first stage Club tournament that the winners would go on to represent Leyton Orient with a chance of playing at Wembley, but to go on and win the whole thing – I was so proud of them!”
This season’s Club round takes place at 12pm on the SCORE Leisure Centre’s 3G pitch opposite the Matchroom Stadium prior to the home game with Oxford United on Saturday, and spectators are welcome to watch.
Gould added: “We’ve had to increase the invitation to schools from 16 teams to 20 due to the demand and they will travel from across the local boroughs and beyond to see who will be the O’s representatives. The football is a good standard with quite a few of the player’s already at academies so it should be an exciting tournament. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully another Wembley appearance!”
All the players will receive certificates provided by the Football League and the two teams contesting the final will also have the privilege of being the pre-match flag bearers and guard of honour.
Schools participating are: Aldersbrook, Yardley, Curwen, South Grove, Larkswood, Potter Street, Loyola, Ashford, Sybourn, Chingford CofE, Henry Maynard, Mayville, St. Joseph’s, Thorpe Hall, Newport, Mission Grove, Henry Moore, Chase Lane, Burnt Mill and George Mitchell.