Teams representing Derby County and Ipswich Town will compete for the Kinder+Sport Football League Kids Cup at Wembley this afternoon.Before today’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final, 16 young footballers will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of playing on the hallowed turf as part of the Kinder+Sport Football League Kids Cup.
The competition, for both boys and girls aged under 11, is organised on behalf of The Football League by The Football League Trust. Each of the 72 Football League clubs run a tournament for their local schools, with the winners earning the right to represent their club and play in their colours on the road to Wembley.
The 72 teams are arranged into the three divisions and then split into Northern and Southern sections – with the two regional winners from each division playing at Wembley before the respective play-off final. Over 16,000 children took part in the group stages of the competition this season –the second successive year participation has grown.
The route to Wembley
Derby County are represented by Hilton Primary School, who qualified for today’s final the hard way. They came through a tough qualifying competition to make it to a last-eight finals competition held at Derby’s Manor Farm training ground, scoring a last-minute, extra-time winner to earn the right to represent the Rams in the competition.
The northern regional finals at Bolton Wanderers were incredibly tight. The Derby County team progressed into the quarter-final after victories against Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough, as well as a draw against Hull City and a defeat to hosts Bolton.
A tense quarter-final then saw the Rams edge out Preston North End 1-0. In the semi-final, against Leeds United, Derby prevailed 2-1 winners. The final saw them clash with Bolton once again – the only team to have beaten the Rams en route to Wembley. This time, Derby took full control in the first half, coming in at the break 2-0 up. At the beginning of the second period, Bolton pulled a goal back, but the Rams showed their quality and went on to win the match 3-1 to progress to the national stadium.
Wearing the blue of Ipswich Town are Britannia Primary School, who breezed through their local competition to earn the right to represent the Tractor Boys and qualify for the southern regional finals at Reading. Despite a couple of defeats, the Tractor Boys managed to scrape through a very tough group with some great performances, finishing second on goal difference.
They then played a very strong Fulham team in the semi-final, who had won their respective group. There was nothing to separate the sides and with no goals after extra-time, it went to penalties. Ipswich scored all three penalties and then saved Fulham’s third to go through to the final against Milton Keynes Dons. In a very tight, end-to-end contest, Ipswich got the first goal and then held on despite a late onslaught from Milton Keynes Dons to win 1-0, and realise their Wembley dream.
Getting kids moving
The Football League Kids Cup, alongside the Girls Cup for under 13’s, is sponsored by Ferrero’s Kinder+Sport programme. Encouraging children to be physically active and embrace the joy of moving is one of Ferrero’s key aims and core corporate social responsibility principles, both in the UK and globally. The Kinder+Sport programme is designed to promote active lifestyles through dynamic play and sports among children and their families, and has reached 15 million children in 27 countries to date.
In the UK, Kinder+Sport includes a number of initiatives. The Kinder+Sport Move and Learn programme is a national, school-based education programme delivered in partnership with The Football League Trust that helps children learn about the importance of a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Ferrero also partners with The Football League Trust to deliver two more national competitions, the Kinder+Sport Futsal Cup for the under-16 age group, and the Kinder+Sport Challenge Cup for the under-18s group.
Both competitions encourage children to get involved with sport and physical activity, whilst giving them a unique opportunity to play at football stadiums. Overall, in the academic year 2015/16, Kinder+Sport together with The Football League Trust will reach more than 47,000 children, helping them to be more active and learn about the benefits of an active lifestyle.
Meet the teams:
Derby County — Hilton Primary School
Kaide Gordon (Capt)
Ben Horleston (GK)
Ipswich Town — Britannia Primary School
Tom Chilvers (Capt)
Jamie Leeks (GK)