World class school's football played at the Ricoh Arena for the ESFA Danone Nations Cup

Some of the most talented primary school footballers in the country played against each other this May as part of the world’s biggest football tournament for 10-12 year olds. Hosted at the prestigious Ricoh Arena in Coventry, 32 primary school teams got a taste of the professional football experience while they competed in the English Schools’ FA (ESFA) Danone Nations Cup National Finals.

Winners in the four categories included:• School Teams’ Cup: Victoria Prep School, Jersey, Channel Islands• District Cup: Newham Schools’ FA, Essex• Small Schools’ Cup: Hale Primary School, Hampshire• Girls’ Cup: Ponteland Academy, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland

Teams progressed through a demanding qualifying process via District Rounds, County Rounds and Regional Finals to qualify for the anticipated sporting event. The winning Girls’ Cup and District Cup teams - along with next year’s winners - will also have the opportunity to participate in the 2019 Danone World Cup hosted in Barcelona.

Sophie Smith, PR and Events Manager for the UK & Ireland at Danone, said: “The players worked very hard to get to the finals and they should all be extremely proud of their achievements. We saw fantastic football skills throughout the day and incredible enthusiasm from the teams and parents supporting. The mantra of the Danone Nations Cup is ‘believe in your dreams’, and we witnessed plenty of budding talent. We’re delighted to welcome the winning District and Girls teams to the Danone Nations Cup World Final next year in Barcelona, for what promises to be a truly special sporting event.”

The tournament, which has taken place for ten years, sees approximately 66,000 kids take part across England. Current Premier League players Jonjoe Kenny, Phil Jones and Benik Afobe all previously took part in the prestigious competitions before beginning their professional careers.

Everton player Jonjoe Kenny, who played in the Danone Nations’ Cup final in 2010 at Everton’s home ground, Goodison park said: “I played in the competition back in 2010 and it was a fantastic experience for me at that time, when I was a young boy who had aspirations of becoming a professional footballer. It was an important step in my development.”

Darren Alcock, English Schools’ FA National Competitions Manager said: “It is an outstanding achievement for the teams to play in the finals. Over 6,000 school football teams entered this competition for boys and girls back in September. We have been lucky enough to witness some tremendous examples of skill, teamwork and sportsmanship along the way and the memories created for the young players involved will last a lifetime. We are very grateful for the fantastic support that we have received from Danone and excited to see what 2019 brings.”

2.5m children worldwide take part in the unique FIFA approved tournament, the English leg of which is run by the English Schools’ Football Association. The Danone Nations Cup has been given the Government’s ‘Inspired by 2012’ seal of approval and is a highlight in Danone’s programme of support for healthy lifestyles through education, fun and fair play, which includes its ‘Eat Like A Champ’ healthy eating initiative.