A football team for talented young players in Swindon will be celebrating a very special birthday next weekend.
The 16 boys and two girls have been selected for Swindon’s primary schools’ football team which will be 50 years old this season.
The players, aged 10 and 11, will meet up on Saturday 9 September at Gerard Buxton Sports Centre in Royal Wootton Bassett to receive their new specially designed kits from sponsors ASDA Foundation and the Unite union.
The children were selected after a series of trials in June and July involving over 100 entrants from 70 schools in and around Swindon.
The team was founded in 1973 and initially played just one match, a 1-1 draw away to Southampton Schools’ under-11s.
However, it now plays over 25 matches on Saturday mornings against other school districts from across the south of England and South Wales. Many of its former players have gone on to become professional players, including Louis McGrory at Gloucester City.
Although some other towns and cities have seen their schools’ football team fold, Swindon’s primary schools’ football team is still going strong.
Teacher Steve Beale has managed the side since 1999, and said: "Since I took over running our team, places like Bristol and Cheltenham have seen their schools’ football teams fold, often due to a lack of financial support or being unable to find a teacher to run the team.
"We do not receive any money from the local council or the Football Association. The cost of hiring pitches, referees and buying kit comes mostly from our own fundraising events and sponsorship from local businesses.”
Four other teachers on the schools' football committee work hard to ensure that primary school football is alive and kicking in Swindon and that this team can hopefully represent its member schools for another half-century.
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