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'Game On' trophy returns to Wales
Players from some of Wales’s most deprived areas have returned from the north of England winners of an international football tournament for the second time in its five-year history.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust’s Game On initiative, supported by Comic Relief, draws together clubs from Communities First partnerships in Wales and former mining areas in England and Scotland to compete for a prestigious annual five-a-side tri-nations title.
The 2012 event was held in Northumberlandand saw an impressive Wales side proceed through the entire tournament without conceding a goal. In the final, Wales- made up of players from Merthyr’s The Engine House, Tri Yn Un Communities First from CynonValleyand Tonyrefail Communities First - beat England 2-0, both goals scored by Daniel Williams from The Engine House.
In the qualifying stages, Callum Williams, also of The Engine House stood out by scoring four great goals against England and Scotland, which - followed by two hard fought 0-0 draws - secured a place in the final.
Wales were out of the blocks quickly against their English counterparts, Daniel Williams firing a long range effort home early on before securing the win with a late counter attack.
The team can also be grateful for a perfect performance from keeper and captain Josh Brogden from The Engine House, who did not concede a goal throughout the tournament.
All the players were then treated to a visit to the Stadium of Light to watch the host club take on Aston Villa in the Premiership.
The Game On initiative is aimed at encouraging boys and girls aged between 14 and 19 living in former mining communities to take part in organised Friday evening sport or community activities promoting healthy lifestyles.
Co-ordinated by the Cambrian Village Trust, a grant of £97,000 from Comic Relief last year allowed it to set up a full league structure.
“This result is a real testament to the success that the Game On project has had in Communities First areas,” said Project Co-ordinator Jarred Harvey. “It’sproof that if you provide a frequently structured set up with which young people can get involved and feel comfortable competing in breeds success – both on and off the pitch.
“Allowing the youngsters the opportunities to take ownership of their teams, with the support of volunteers, gives them a real sense of worth and belonging.
“Seeing them progress from competing in the Game On Friday night Leagues to representing their country in an international tournament, then winning the tournament, is truly wonderful - a real life changing experience and something that will live with them for the rest of their lives.”
Alun Taylor, CRTRegeneration Manager Wales, said: “This is a fantastic achievement from the Walessquad, a team made up of players from across Communities First partnerships.
“The lads have demonstrated commitment, effort and enthusiasm and have responded to a massive challenge with a great win, which will have a positive influence on their personal development and inspire others to participate - which is what Game On is all about.”
- The Game On team is looking to expand the leagues and would welcome communities to contact them by visiting www.gameonwales.orgor calling the Game On office - 01443 441327.