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West Bridgford school wins Europa Cup

Rushcliffe youngsters play in the footsteps of their heroes as they are crowned champions at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium

Football-mad pupils from the St Edmund Campion School in West Bridgford, got the trip of a lifetime as they toured to Barcelona to play against teams from across the globe; returning victorious as crowned champions of the Europa Cup competition.

The St Edmund Campion Year 6 Boys' football team travelled to the Spanish city last month (June) the Europa Cup U8 to 16 contest – taking to the pitch versus 12 squads from Malaysia, the United States, Portugal and Denmark.

Will Stockdale, 11; Zac Aaron, 11; Corben Scammell, 10; Joseph Crofts, 11; Peter Tildsley, 11; James Hill, 11; Giuliano Sansone, 11; Nathaniel Richards, 11; Alex Standen, 11; and Conor Bainbridge, 11, from the year six age group all laced up their boots ready to show off their skills in the international tournament.

Having been crowned Rushcliffe Champions twice in the autumn and spring of this year and reaching the County Cup final back at home, the four-day adventure promised to add to the side's winning streak as the school's most successful football team in its history.

They smashed to victory with three impressive wins during the pre-qualifying tournament at the start of their trip at the Complex Esportiu Futbol Salou; going head to head with teams from Portugal, Denmark and Wales, and qualifying for the grand semi-final at the world-famous Camp Nou in Barcelona.

The team showed their resilience and came back from a goal behind to claim victory over Kidderminster Lions in the semi-final, winning 5 to 4 on penalties, and setting them up for the final game against the Destiny FDC Elite (the Malaysian National Academy).

The final game finished goalless with a nail-biting penalty shoot out to decide the title. Players Joseph Crofts and Captain Zac Aaron both hit the back of the neck, before goalkeeper Will Stockdale saved the final opponent's shoot – leading the team to victory and the champions title.

Proud family and friends were awaiting their return with placards and banners at the school gates back in the UK, with the heroes receiving a warm welcome as well as a victory parade with fellow pupils.

Captain Zac Aaron said of the experience:

"It was incredible - I had goose bumps. I had the privilege to lead my team and my friends who I have grown up with, to win a tournament at the Camp Nou against teams from all over the world. To score my penalty was such a relief and it was an honour to lift the trophy when we won the competition."

Top goal saver, keeper Will Stockdale, said:

"Diving full stretch in normal time was the highlight of the contest for me and the joy in saving the final penalty during the shoot-out will stay with me forever. It was a particularly proud moment as my parents and brother were watching from the stands."

Simon Tuckwell, class teacher, commented:

"It is beyond words to describe what an unbelievable experience this was both on and off the pitch with such an amazing group of boys. These are memories that will stay with us for a lifetime. What a story!"

The contest was organised by Precision Pass and is open to young squads around the world – with the St Edmund Campion team being the first and only school to enter the competition. The opportunity arose due to the sponsorship of the school football team by The Wolds Childcare, as well as support by Proludic and Rattle and Roll.

Jonnie Richards, main sponsor, coach and parent added:

"At Wolds Childcare we promote outdoor learning through our on-site Forest Schools and when the opportunity arose to support the team we were delighted to assist. The earlier that children are afforded the chance to learn outdoors and in a team environment the better, as this has a positive effect on their openness to learning, as well as achieving greater levels of confidence and essential life skills. The team excelled in the tournament and the result was beyond our wildest dreams, it was a privilege to support and witness this great achievement."


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