Alma Primary School in Barnet won the ESFA Pokémon Primary Schools’ Cup for Small Schools at Leicester City FC on 7th June, which means Alma is the finest footballing small school in England!
Alma defeated all-comers in the County Round of the tournament back in January, taking the overall championship by defeating St Mary’s (N8) at The Hive. This sent Alma to the South-East Regional Finals. Given that this region stretches from Norfolk to Sussex, this was a real challenge for the squad but one they rose to admirably, defeating Bedfordshire’s Ashton St Peters to secure the regional crown.
This put Alma among the final eight small schools in the country and they and Ashton St Peters both headed for the King Power Stadium to take on their counterparts from the North, Midlands and South West in the National Finals.
Having warmed up for their trip to Leicester by winning local and Maccabi five-a-side tournaments and the Dick Bailey Cup, which is a competition for Barnet schools, Alma’s team knew they were being backed by the rest of the school, who were watching the day unfold via a live stream provided by ESFA TV. The magnificent Middlesaxons were in imperious form, scoring 14 times and conceding only once from the penalty spot to book their place in the Final, against Lindow Community School from Cheshire.
With two regional winners facing off, a fiercely-contested Final eventually saw Alma emerge triumphant, winning 2-0 to claim the Pokémon Cup.
Reflecting on the competition – which features more than 5,000 Primary Schools competing for glory in three categories (Boys, Girls and Small Schools) Peter Murphy, Senior Director of Marketing at the Pokémon Company International said: “This has been a memorable first tournament with the ESFA. It was great to see how the players worked together with their teammates, which is a core value at Pokémon, putting all of their energy into trying their best to progress through the competition and be crowned the national winners. Everyone who took part should be incredibly proud of themselves.”
ESFA Chair Stuart Botham added: “This year’s National Finals at Leicester City FC were a fantastic showcase for the talent, skill and dedication of primary schools from across the country and, on behalf of the ESFA, I would like to thank each and every team for their participation and sportsmanship this season”.
Alma coach, Alex Norman said “the school supports and understands the value of sport within an educational setting. The team has given so much to so many in terms of improved confidence, camaraderie across the school and has provided opportunities to children that they will never experience again. The memories will last forever and seeing the whole school watch the live broadcast of the matches was amazing. There has been a great atmosphere around the school over the last week”.
To celebrate their team’s achievements, Alma Primary School has organised a ‘Pokémon Cup Day’ where all children are encouraged to wear clothing themed around either Pokémon or football.
Squad (pictured above): Nadav Okrent, Gilad Sasson, Levi Kay, Charlie Gelb, Ethan Lazarus, Ari Kaye, Yoni Shamash, Josh Norman, Oliver Cohen