St Brelade’s Minis Academy are celebrating having reached the BWCI Plate final of the 2014 BWCI Mini Soccer Festival, beating youth teams from professional clubs including Bristol City FC on the way.
A record 23 teams entered the BWCI Mini Soccer Festival, which is for Year 5 pupils only. This year seven teams from Jersey and six from the UK took part, including squads from the youth academies of football clubs Southampton, Fulham, Bristol City and Everton.
Adam Lester, Head Coach at St Brelade’s Mini Academy, said: “It is an amazing achievement, and beating Bristol City in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final will live with the boys, and me, forever. Seeing their faces as they knew they were through to the final was fantastic.
“The boys we took aren’t necessarily the best for their age group in the Island, but they trained well in the weeks leading up to the tournament, used the tactics that we practiced, and on the day it all worked. Walking out on to the pitch in front of 400 supporters at Footes Lane to the music, just as the professional teams do, was a fantastic experience for them all.”
The BWCI Mini Soccer Festival started with a group stage in which each team played at least ten matches. The top four teams from the two groups went on to the knockout stage for the BWCI Shield, and the next eight teams competed for the BWCI Plate.
While the shield competition is often dominated by the UK clubs, this year four Jersey teams finished in the top eight, with Jersey’s St Clements coming top of their group, holding Everton to a 0-0 draw in the group stage Everton beat Fulham 1-0 in a tense final for the BWCI Trophy, meaning that Everton have now won for five consecutive years.
The final of the BWCI Plate saw Jersey’s St Brelade take on Saints FC, with the Southampton team taking the honours after a decisive 4-0 win.
BWCI’s Business Development Manager, Mike Freer said: “The BWCI Mini Soccer Festival has become firmly established as the summer tournament where Channel Islands budding footballers can take on teams from some of the UK’s best known football clubs, and we are delighted that they did so well.
“We would like to thank the event’s organisers, Martyn Banton and his team from the Guernsey Football Association, for all of their hard work in organising this event and making it such a success once again.”