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There was international pride at stake at the Essex County FA's various Schools Central Venue Leagues over the summer, with Development Officer Sharon Brownlie using the six-week break to plan for next year.
World Cup-themed festivals took place to bring a number of contests to a close for the summer holidays in Essex's five London Boroughs and Sharon, who is responsible for female football in the area, was delighted with the response. She said: "We have delivered four Central Venue Leagues across Essex's Boroughs this season, including the Girls Disability CVL, after identifying a lack of opportunities in Years Three and Four.
"We wanted to provide a fun and enjoyable introduction to football, which I hope we achieved. The final events we delivered were a real treat as we even had a replica World Cup which we took around with us, which went down very well! The Dagenham CVL was a particularly successful way of getting girls into clubs in conjunction with Jays Youth, who have seen a rise in numbers as a result. Next school year we will be extending the league to four events per year and we hope to see more schools taking part."
Central Venue Leagues are set up at a location where participating teams don't have to travel huge distances to play, with all fixtures taking place in one visit. Most are formed so that, at each event, teams compete for a trophy for that particular meeting while their fixtures also contribute to an overall table. June and July proved very busy in Essex's London Boroughs as three were brought to a close for girls in School Years Three and Four to present more females with the chance to play football inside school hours.
Brittons School in Ford Lane, Havering was the venue for the first of these and seven schools enjoyed 'round robin' games before participating in an FA Tesco Skills session delivered by local Skills Coach Rob O'Brien. Every school was requested to come dressed as a country taking part in the World Cup and it was Benhurst Primary, ironically representing Spain, who won a prize for the best representation of their nation.
Whybridge Juniors from Rainham won the Fair Play Award whilst Hornchurch's Langtons Junior beat Elm Park in the event's final. In addition, there were also rewards for the overall Fair Play winners and the victors of the tournament, with Mead Primary and Benhurst Primary collecting the most points over a total of three league events.
The next World Cup festival to take place was at Robert Clack School in Dagenham, with five schools involved in both games and a further FA Tesco Skills session. Hunters Hall Primary, representing beaten finalists the Netherlands, won the prize for representing their country with the most style. This meant they were able to design their own playing shirts, complete with their club badge and famous players' names on the reverse!
Grafton Primary won the event's Fair Play Award whilst Godwin Primary won the event final after a tense penalty shootout against Richard Alibon Primary from Barking. Hunters Hall won the overall Fair Play Award and the complete winners' prize went to Richard Alibon again, who collected the most points across the three meetings.
The final World Cup event of the summer was staged at Brampton Manor School and included five teams from four schools in a similar format. Gainsborough, who were Italians for the day, produced an impressive cheer to win the prize for representation while Canning Town's Kaizen Primary were the Fair Play winners. Southern Road were the event's champions. Gainsborough Primary were crowned overall fair play winners and Hallsville Primary were awarded the overall winners' trophy.
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