English coalfield communities had a lot to be proud of as four teams from the region travelled to Scotland to take to the pitch as they competed in the Coalfields International Football Tournament, delivered by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

Representing England’s coalfield communities, each team had their skills tested against some of the best young talents from across Scotland and Wales.

England’s female footballers for the international event were both from Barnsley as Barnsley FC Ladies under 14s and 16s squads both qualified following a successful 5-aside tournament, which saw both groups come out on top against teams from across Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

The two teams set up an all Barnsley final in the qualification round and it was the under 14s that came out victorious, claiming their spot at the finals held in Kelty, Scotland alongside the second placed under 16s.

The girl’s teams were not England’s only representatives at the finals as Kendray boys were selected to represent England’s coalfields alongside a boys team from Airedale in Wakefield.

The young players that took to the pitch were chosen as a result of their participation during a series of Game On ‘Turn up and Play’ Football 5ives sessions that were held in Airedale and Kendray. The session in Kendray was set up by Barnsley Councils Targeted Youth Services and 5ives Community Sport Centre in Kendray with the aim to improve relations between the young people in the area and the centre. Game On will now deliver ongoing support for these sessions, providing extra pitch hire and a football coach to work alongside Barnsley Council’s Youth Worker.

Although the English teams didn’t quite take the title of overall winner, England did have something to celebrate as Kendray’s very own Alex Mitchell was named player of the tournament and received high praise for his consistent performances throughout the contest.

Returning to England, Game On will now be delivered throughout Yorkshire following a two-year absence. Providing young people from coalfield communities with access to physical activity that improves health and wellbeing, the programme will also helps young people to develop leadership and team work skills, while also reducing anti-social behaviour.  

Kat Clarke, Development Manager for Game On England, comments: “The teams from England that took part in the Coalfields International Football Tournament have a lot to be proud of. Not only were their performances to be commended, proving that English coalfields are a real hotbed for football talents of the future, but their attitudes to the games were also to be admired.”

“Game On works with young people from across coalfield communities and provides them with an opportunity to keep fit, improve their skills and take away positive advice from role models within the community. We’ve seen a great reaction to the programme since we relaunched and are looking forward to rolling the programme out further across the Yorkshire region.”