Two teams win through

Chelsea Academy duo George McEachran and Marc Guehi were on hand to meet the players as Chelsea’s representatives for this year’s Premier League Schools Tournament were confirmed on Tuesday.

Our Cobham training ground played host to the Chelsea Foundation’s area final as teams from London, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire and Wiltshire did battle for the right to represent the Blues at the Premier League national final.

Two competitions ran simultaneously with John Keble Church of England Primary School (London) coming out on top in the under-11s mixed tournament, and Penwortham Primary School (London) being crowned champions in the under-11 girls event.

The two teams will now go on to face their counterparts from the 19 other Premier League clubs in the national final at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium in May.

Prior to the final round of matches, McEachran and Guehi, both members of the England Under-17 World Cup-winning squad last year, popped along to cast their eye over the youngsters before posing for photos and taking part in a Q&A.

Among the stars on the field was Penwortham’s Poppy Rolfe, 10, who cannot wait to strut her stuff against the rest of the Premier League’s representatives in May. She said: ‘It feels good and we are excited to play at a stadium.

‘Every one of us is looking forward to it. It is a good experience to play at the training ground of Chelsea and lots of fun and to play at a stadium will be even better.’

In total more than 100 schools registered to represent Chelsea in the national finals, with the competition designed to give children the opportunity to be treated like Premier League footballers while competing against other school teams representing their local top-flight club. It forms part of the Premier League Primary Stars initiative.

From the regional rounds, 10 schools qualified for the trip to Cobham with a round-robin league system used to decide the overall winners.

The Premier League Schools Tournament is all about increasing participation in football for boys and girls, with Stamford Bridge playing host to last season’s final.

John Keble have now won the competition two years running and after missing out on the overall title at Stamford Bridge last year, teacher Andy Collier admits there is unfinished business. He said: ‘This is two wins on the bounce now and the players are looking forward to the final.

‘They did well last year but didn’t win it so want to go even further this time.  There are five of the players who played last year so they have some experience and will be aiming to do very well and go one better than last year.

‘It is incredible to play here at Cobham. As soon as you drive in it is amazing and it is a very well organised event and one we enjoy playing in.’