Chris Evans reports…
HUNDREDS ENJOY GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL FESTIVAL
Youths and Adults Take Part in Colchester Event
Male and female teams ranging from Under 7s to adults turned out in their hundreds to enjoy the Essex County FA Grassroots Football Festival in Colchester on Saturday 14th July, participating in recreational small-sided matches and fun sessions.
Similar to last season’s model, there were solely non-competitive tournaments at the University of Essex campus. This style of event eliminates pressure and expectations, especially for new teams or those who are experiencing a new format for the first time. Each year the festival provides as many opportunities and elements of the game as possible, and this year was no different.
The popular festival has evolved rapidly over the years, based on feedback from previous participants. One of the key elements in 2018 was to transition players between different formats of the game as they move up the age groups, as well as assisting their coaches in adapting to the changes in-between seasons.
Teams were creative in exploring new formations and playing positions without the pressure of the scoreline. Coaches and managers saw their players on a different-sized pitch and in different positions so they could understand how to support them for the new season.
Chelsea Ladies and England Under 17s star Charlotte put in a guest appearance for ‘Question & Answer’ sessions, reciting her progress along the Female Player Pathway from Galleywood, Writtle Minors, Great Danes and Moulsham High School, through the Essex County FA Player Development Centre and Regional Talent Club to captaining the ‘Lionesses’ Under 15s and 16s.
The former Essex County Schools FA representative team player explained how she’s since travelled to Norway to play and was part of an England age group to beat Germany on penalties! She said: “I love the central defensive midfield position as you can defend and score goals as well. If you play in several positions you can further your journey and my best advice is to believe in yourself.”
Senior Football Development Officer Danielle Warnes reacted: “It was a brilliant turnout and it was fantastic to see parents join us too to make it a real family atmosphere. It was a very hot day but everyone was very enthusiastic and we’ve had some really positive feedback. Thanks to everyone who contributed to an excellent event!”
The overall festival, this year in partnership with Boots2Africa, is divided into two events to maximise the number of teams who can join in. This was the first of the two dates, aimed primarily at the county’s geographical Group 1 (Braintree, Colchester, Maldon, Tendring) and Group 2 (Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford).
A second festival on Sunday 12th August will cater for Group 3 (Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock) and Group 4 (Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest). This will also include a disability element, as well as 7v7-to-9v9 transitioning.