Record participation levels in Premier League Schools tournamentCardiff City FC Community and Education Foundation has reached new heights by recently breaking the Barclays Premier League all time record for participation and involvement in the Premier League Schools tournament.
Nine days of preliminary rounds stretching from 31st January to 7th March welcomed a total of 147 teams, engaging with over 1300 young players from schools across South Wales. The tournament was held in conjunction with the Premier League and New Directions Education.
The initial stages saw the two highest finishers of each respective day, plus the highest two runners-up across all nine days, progress on to the finals day on the 14th March, where they battled it out for a chance to represent Cardiff City at the National Finals on 20th May at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium. Victorious on the day were Whitecross Comprehensive and Llandaff Church in Wales – winners of the girls U13s and U11s mixed tournaments respectively.
Cardiff City Community and Education School’s Manager Joel Hutton, who has played a key role in organising the tournament, expressed his delight at gaining such accreditation saying: “We are over the moon to receive recognition from the Premier League.
"Breaking the record for the number of schools participating in a Premier League Schools Tournament across all Premier League Clubs since the tournament was introduced, is something that we can be extremely proud of. For me, this is another example of the fantastic work that the staff within the Community Foundation do across South Wales.”
Managing Director of New Directions Gary Williams said: “We’ve been working with Cardiff City and the Community Department for the past fifteen years with these competitions and it’s just excellent to be involved.
"Cardiff City give a lot back to the community and we’re just glad to be part of it. Cardiff City being in the Premier League is great for the club, great for the community and great for these kids to be part of.”
Over the course of the 2013/14 school year, the Foundation has extended its reach to more than 220 schools, a large proportion of which constituted the teams involved in the tournament.
The Premier League has granted Cardiff City Foundation a sum, totaling over £250,000 since the Bluebirds’ ascension into top flight football this season. As well as broadening potential reach to those in education, the funding has also gone towards creating opportunities for youngsters in hard-to-reach areas.