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 also 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.
Team entries for the second event in Romford on Sunday 12th August can be made by clicking here, and further grassroots football information can be found on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
Brilliant morning at Essex Uni working with coaches, players & parents in the girls foundation phase as part of the @EssexCountyFA grassroots football festival.
✅ Players taking ownership
✅ Players listing match tactics
✅ Players rotating positions #unitegrassroots ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/TuDXU8SseT
Our players thoroughly enjoyed today's @EssexCountyFA Grassroots Festival.
Great weather, excellent venue, lots of smiles! ⚽🌞👍#UniteGrassroots #ForAll https://t.co/05EXO1yTlR
@EssexCountyFA @Streets_72 @Wakie3 thank you for this morning, the girls had loads of fun. Keep up the good work #UniteGrassroots pic.twitter.com/25K9Xfn1B7
@Radarsfc Girls enjoying #Essex County FA 9v9 Festival and even got to meet Under 17s star Charlotte @chelseaFCW and @lionesses #GrassrootsFootball inspiring the next generation! #UniteGrassroots pic.twitter.com/KEu3JQJdpY
Great 1st outing today as Canvey Island Ladies U12s at the @EssexCountyFA #GrassrootsFestival. Some really good football played and a few new faces experienced 9 a side for the first time. 4 games 4 wins, great start for the team. @CanveyLadiesFC @CanveyLadiesU12 pic.twitter.com/hocVaxXMRR