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The achievements of Oxford City Football Club’s youth teams were celebrated on Sunday at a sun-kissed Summer Family Festival, hosted by Ignite Sport UK.
Hundreds of football-mad youngsters who represent the club’s U7s to U18s squads attended their respective awards ceremonies, which were split into nine half-hour slots to ensure compliance with the latest COVID-19 regulations.
Each player received a medal for their efforts through the season while a select few were awarded individual prizes including Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year.
The day also featured freestyle football demonstrations, fun media experiences, giant football-darts, face painting and an entertaining Oxford City XI v Oxford United XI friendly including former United players Joey Beauchamp, Chris Allen and Les Robinson.
Jordan Piper, Head of Oxford City’s Junior and Youth Football Programme, said: “It was great to see so many smiles on our young players’ faces after one of the most difficult seasons on record for grassroots football.
“Despite two national lockdowns and weeks of uncertainty concerning coaching and matches, all players and their families pulled together and revealed the true community spirit of our youth teams.
“We are extremely proud of all players’ achievements and hope everyone who attended our Summer Family Festival had an enjoyable day.”
The afternoon was organised by Marston-based registered training provider Ignite Sport UK.
The company took charge of all youth teams in July last year, providing coaching support, management and administration duties.
As part of Ignite Sport UK’s investment in strengthening the Junior and Youth and Academy teams, all age groups benefitted from the installation of video analytics to support overall development.
A healthier on-site menu was launched too in partnership with the Oxford Food Company.
Justin Merritt, Director of Ignite Sport UK, said: “Sport helps people of all ages develop essential life skills such as teamwork, communication and listening.
“It is credit to our players and their parents or carers for their patience and understanding of the restrictions we have had to impose at such an exciting time for all Oxford City youth teams.
“We look forward to continuing players’ journey through their development pathway next season and providing new players the opportunity to become a valued member of our team.”
Ignite Sport UK is a registered training provider for sport and education qualifications, working in further education, apprenticeships, and adult education. It is the official community partner of Oxford City FC.
Current Oxford City players Zac McEachran and Ben Barrett, and assistant manager Andy Ballard are graduates of the club’s youth programme. Plus, former New Zealand U23 coach Des Buckingham, Udoka Godwin-Malife of Forest Green Rovers and Garath McCleary of Championship club Reading FC.