A secondary school football team from Peterlee in County Durham has been crowned national cup champions in The English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) final for the U12 PlayStation Elite Schools’ Cup.

St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School was up against Whitgift School from Croydon, playing at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire.

In a battle of wills, the match went right to the wire, with a nerve-wracking penalty shootout deciding who took home the silver. St Bede’s were named champions, much to the joy of their supporters watching the game live back home.

Francesca Craik, acting headteacher at St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School, said: “The school hall roof nearly came off with the cheers from Year 8 when the boys won the shoot out and lifted the cup.

“It wasn’t just about the trophy though; winning the game was about succeeding in the face of adversity. The boys have persevered with the disruption to their playing and cup final journey caused by the pandemic and showed continued enthusiasm and commitment throughout, fully deserving those medals.

“Their resilience, attitude and work ethic set an example to us all. Huge well done boys – everyone is so proud of you all.”

Over 6,000 teams entered the 2019/20 national cup competitions in September 2019 and since then have travelled across the country and competed in the competition’s knockout stages to secure their place in October 2020’s finals.

St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School is a partner school for Improtech Soccer, running academies for elite footballers through them at the school for both boys and girls. St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Hebburn is also a partner school, running the same programme.

The programme allows the boys and girls to receive 10 hours of high quality coaching a week from Improtech’s team of UEFA Licensed coaches.

Former Premier League and Republic of Ireland international striker, Stephen Elliott who is lead coach at Improtech Soccer Academy said: “This group of boys have worked really hard on their football and their studies over the past year.

“This cup win is a great reward and something to really lift the spirits of the whole football academy, school and community during these unprecedented times.

“I am massively proud of them and look forward to helping them continue their football education going forward.”

If your child is interested in joining St Bede’s or St Joseph’s Improtech football academies, contact Steve Golightly, Director of Football Education at Improtech on: [email protected]

Alternatively, please visit http://www.st-bedes.durham.sch.uk or call 0191 5876220 for more information on St. Bede’s or http://www.stjosephs.uk.net/, tel 0191 428 2700 for St. Joseph’s.

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