Hundreds of Shropshire school children have enjoyed the thrill of playing in exciting five-a-side football tournaments against youngsters from across the county thanks to Crossbar Coaching Education in Sport.
The company formed six years ago by director Gavin Cowan, a former Shrewsbury Town and AFC Telford United player, has developed an impressive reputation delivering sport across the curriculum in a host of schools.
Now they are currently running five-a-side tournaments involving Shropshire primary schools on three successive Wednesdays at Telford College of Arts & Technology.
Sixteen teams battled it out in the opening event for pupils in Years 3 and 4, with Shrewsbury school St Giles winning the Crossbar Cup and Greenfields, another county town school, triumphant in the Crossbar Champions Plate.
This week it was the turn of youngsters in Years 5 and 6 as 22 teams competed in another top quality competition eventually won by Telford school Newdale, conquerors of Condover Primary School after extra time in a thrilling final. Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge Primary School beat Telford’s Grange Park Primary School in the Crossbar Champions Plate final.
Next Wednesday it’s the turn of the girls to go head to head in their quest to get their hands on the prestigious silverware.
Gavin said he was delighted with the success of the tournaments which have become an established date in the calendar for many schools around the county.
“It’s an annual event now into its fifth year and this is the biggest ever, especially for Years 5 and 6 as we had 22 schools attending,” he added. “Some of them we deliver provision in, some we don’t, but all schools are invited to be part of it.
“We’re really proud of the event and it’s getting better every year. We’re now in a position where we cater for more than 35 schools and deliver over 400 hours of PE provision a week which is going to go up come September with all the new work coming in.
“These are fantastic tournaments that we really use to aid all round development. There’s obviously competition and people want to win, but we make it a fun day and all the children are stimulated and kept busy.
“The tournaments are a thank you to our schools and it’s really valuable to the children involved. We are able to do some coaching as well as referee at the same time while the events are very organised and show our standards and ethos.”
Andrew Morris, head teacher at Shrewsbury’s Greenfields Primary School, insisted the tournaments are hugely popular with pupils.
“It’s the highlight of the summer for us and we enter teams in all three tournaments,” he said. “They are fantastic, professional days out. The kids love it, I love it, and it’s just a pleasure to be part of it.
“They are very well organised events with five pitches on the go for the Year 5/6 competition and lots of coaches working really hard. There’s a really good atmosphere, a positive ethos, and that’s promoted all the way through. You learn how to win and how to lose which I think is really important.”
Adam Copsey, a Year 5 teacher at Telford’s Lightmoor Village Primary School, added: “These are fantastic tournaments. A lot of these boys only get to play in one or two tournaments a year and this is by far the best. There were over 20 schools competing and it’s a great opportunity for them to take part in a well organised event.”
Crossbar work closely with several partners, among them Wenlock Spring, who provide all the youngsters at the tournaments with free bottles of water, while Martin James, the PR and communications executive for Greenhous, was on hand to present the trophies at the Year 5/6 event.
He said: “Gavin Cowan has a vehicle from us and it helps him to get around the county to various schools. We’ve been supporters of grassroots football for many years and it was a delight to see so many children from local schools.
“There were some excellent footballers taking part and the spirit the tournament was played in was absolutely fantastic. You might not want to lose but if you lose with grace, that’s important, and if you win make sure you go and shake hands with the opposition. It was fantastic how the youngsters were responding to one another.”
Gavin added: “It’s again surpassed all expectations really with the number of schools that have taken part. It would have been more but some schools were away on residential trips. These are always really busy day but, again, they could not have gone any better. We’re really happy with the events and the children have seen the value in it as well as the teachers.
“For us, it’s about creating a spectacle, an event, where the children can go away with lots of development. It’s in our name, education in sport, and that’s what it’s all about. We’ve had lots of lovely comments about the organisation and raising the bar really – and that’s what we’re all about.
“We really appreciate all the schools bringing teams and the children have just loved it which is the main thing.”
Crossbar Coaching Education in Sport also run football academies in partnership with the Shropshire Schools & Colleges FA and are renowned for their popular school holiday courses.
Pictured: Newdale Primary School, winners of the Crossbar Cup for Years 5 and 6, on the attack during their exciting victory in the final, after extra time, against Condover Primary School.