FOOTBALL-mad youngsters dodged the showers at the weekend and managed to keep smiling through this year’s Rowsley and District Youth Football League Mini Soccer Festival.
A total of 51 teams competed for three trophies, at under sevens, under eights and under nines level, and organisers estimate that around 1,200 people of all ages were at CavendisFields in Matlock on Saturday to support the event.
In the under nines category, 18 teams competed for the Duke of Devonshire Trophy with ADASC Rangers beating Leabrooks Tigers on penalties to win the final, while Chesterfield Town saw off competition from 14 other sides to beat fellow finalists Brampton Rovers and lift the Mary O’Brien Trophy.
Finally, it was all smiles for ADASC Eagles under sevens as they won the Tony Chad Trophy by beating Shirebrook Rangers in the final.
The event was organised by Lee Hodkin, his son Matt and Tony Chadbourne.
Tony explained: “I have to say that it all went very well and I think a good time was had by all, which is the important thing.
“We had 51 teams involved from basically all the villages within a 25-mile radius of Crown Square in Matlock.
“These included teams from Barlborough, Buxton, Shirebrook, Tansley, Darley Dale and Matlock itself.
“Including kids, we estimate there were about 1,200 there on the day, including the Duke of Devonshire himself, who put in an appearance.”
The event has become a regular and much-anticipated fixture for junior football teams in the area and Tony is pleased to say that the festival continues to go from strength to strength.
“The event is still expanding and its popularity is a reflection on the strength of the league and youth football in general in the area. Cavendish Fields is full on a Saturday, with eight pitches being used for three games in a row.
“There are also ten under nines sides in our league who play at Highfields Park in Chesterfield so you can see the level of interest that there is from local clubs.
“At under sevens and eights levels in the league, the title is decided on sportmanship rather than results and that’s something we are keen to promote. “Our attitude is about encouraging creative football, rather than it all being about win, win, win.
“The kids know this and the parents and coaches come round to the idea too.
“Junior football is execeptionally strong in the area and one ofthe beauties of league is that you can get in at under sevens level and go right through to under 18s.
“We are very keen on promoting the enjoyment of playing and Saturday’s event was successful because it encourages camaraderie, it is well organised and the facilities are good, as these have been developed at Cavendish Fields through local funding, so it combines to make a successful day for all concerned.
“Friendship and fun are the elements that spring to mind when I think of the festival and if you instill those at an early age and also allow their skills to develop - and some of them have unbelievable skills for their age – it can only be for the good of the game locally.
“We were delighted with how the festival went.”