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Youth Football Scotland and Grassroots Media attended the UK & Ireland Freestyle Championships at the SoccerexFF. On Sunday 6th of September, the final 16 battled it out to be crowned champions and we were there to catch all the action.
Featured are Scottish freestylers Gregor Russell, Gavin McKinney, and Scotland's number one, David Mennie. We also spoke to 14-year-old Griffin Berridge and John Farnworth, who holds five world records and completed the entire London marathon while keeping up a ball.
We also spoke to one of the judges of the championship and 4FREESTYLE founder and CEO Tobias Becs. He spoke to us about his role as a judge and about the 4FREESTYLE brand and its quest to support the freestyle community.
You can also see the jaw-dropping skills of the top three freestylers in 2015 in the form of Tom Folan, Daniel Dennehy, and of course the World and UK & Ireland champion himself, Andrew Henderson.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust’s knock-out competition for the Coalfields Community Cup, and the right to represent Scotland in the Coalfields Home Internationals was hailed as a fantastic success.
Eighteen five-a-side teams from all of Scotland’s mining communities took the field at Alloa FC’s Indodrill Stadium, formerly Recreation Park, for the selection tournament, with sides from Clackmannan and East Ayrshire going on to land the two coveted Scotland team slots.
Clackmannan’s Wasps Community Club 2000 lined up against East Ayrshire’s Grange Academy for what proved to be a highly entertaining and extremely close final of the Cup Competition. The match went down to a penalty shootout, but the Alloa side held their nerve netting all five of their penalties, while one of Grange’s shots rebounded off the post, leaving the Alloa lads, Aaron Honeyman, Declan McGarvie, Adam Green, Devon Douglas, Scott Sinclair, Stephen Gallagher and Jamie Millar to celebrate winning the cup and the first Scotland place.
Wasps player Jamie Millar said: “It was a great tournament, and the final couldn’t have been closer. We are just delighted to have won and really looking forward to representing Scotland in the Home Internationals." The team’s Coach Karl Rennie, said: “I was really proud of the way our lads held their nerve when it really counted. We were 3-0 up with just minutes to go, but Grange managed to square the tie, and put us through a nerve wracking penalty shoot-out."
Grange’s efforts were rewarded when the organisers decided that their performance in the final warranted selection as the second Scottish team to take part in the Coalfields Home Internationals against England and Wales. Grange‘s selection means they create a record of their own. They represented Scotland in last year’s Internationals, which Scotland hosted. Now they are heading to Wales for a second shot at winning the competition.
It is the first time that the same team has represented Scotland in back to back Internationals. The Grange team was: Greig Conner, Ciaran Perry, Mark Walker, Jackson Sievewright, Cameron Lindsay, and Lyle Cameron. Coach Hugh Conner said: “Our lads had a great day. They are delighted to be representing Scotland again and feel their experience last year, when Scotland hosted the finals will stand them in good stead when they go to Wales."
There were two other awards. Mark Fox of Cowie FC won the Player of the Tournament title and received his trophy from Trustee Bob Young, while the Milton team from Bannockburn took the Fair Play Award. Nicky Wilson, Scottish Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: "The whole tournament was a fantastic success, with the biggest field, and the most spectators we have ever had."
Young said: "All the games were played in the best possible spirit, with great skills and high levels of sportsmanship. Alloa FC did us proud and we are extremely grateful for their support and the use of their excellent facilities."
Scott Gibson, founder and head coach of East Lothian-based Progressive Football Development who organised the tournament on behalf of the CRT, said: "I was delighted we attracted teams from all the Scottish Coalfields communities, and impressed by their skills and commitment. I am confident the two Scottish teams will be more than able to hold their own when they go to Wales."
The Coalfields Home Internationals, featuring two teams each from coalfields communities in England, Scotland and Wales will be played at Merthyr Town FC’s Pennydarren Park in South Wales over the weekend of August 21-23.
Below is a look at who is competing this season: