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Liverpool Schools following in footsteps of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney

Following in the footsteps of local footballing icons such as Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Robbie Fowler, the Liverpool Schools Football Association continues to strive in football across the country.

This year, the Liverpool Schools FA have seen monumental successes, with Liverpool being the 2024 National Champions at U11, U13 and U15 boys as well as U12, U13 and U14 girls.

Following on from one of the most successful weeks in the 137-year-history, chairman Andy Reidel gave his thoughts on an incredible season for the city.

He said: “We’ve got real positive relationships with schools – they will ring us up and say that they’ve got this player, and they might be worth looking at.

“Last year we had four finalists and won three, and there was no other association was anywhere near that and this year we’ve obviously improved on that. We hold the record nationally for the most number of national titles of any other association by a considerable distance.

“A lot of ex-players have played for us the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Robbie Fowler, and Steve McManaman but going back you’ve got Joe Royle, Joe Fagan. We try to educate all our players as well so that they are aware of the footsteps they are following.”

Across the country, there are only 10 national competitions, and Liverpool have managed to win six of them. This provides a true testament to the abilities of not just the children, but also the coaching staff who are all volunteers.

Reidel said: “We’d keep doing it if we didn’t win anything, we do it because we really enjoy it and we love football and coaching teams.

“Winning the trophies is the cherry on the cake I suppose, it’s not what we’re about necessarily but obviously if we enter a competition, we’re there to win the competition.

“It gives us a sense of pride, a sense of achievement, everything we’re doing and putting in place.

“Incredibly delighted and very proud, to get to finals and win national finals, but it’s more a kind of measure of our overall strength as an association rather than just individual teams”.

With the many huge names that have played for Liverpool Schools, the triumphs endured this season have caused a huge excitement about the next generation of Scouse footballers coming through.

Reidel added: “You never know who is going to come through, you know Wayne (Rooney) and Steven (Gerrard) were outstanding in their age groups!

“There’s been lots of players who have went under the radar as well and burst onto the scene and have had fantastic careers – some you wouldn’t have expected to, but it is all about their attitude in the end.

“If you’ve got the right attitude, to train and listen and to try their best all the time and be dedicated, then you’ve got a chance. It’s about taking these opportunities”

“There’s are kids right now in our system who I can see have the potential if they have got the right attitude to make a professional career, wherever that might be, the Championship, the Premier League – wherever.”

Reidel then went on to explain the importance in the children engaging in competitive fixtures, an element that currently the top-level academies in the country do not offer in the lower age brackets.

He said: “Academies play friendlies, they don’t really play competitive games, there’s no points at stake – all of them say the element of competition and there being something at stake, there is a different kind of dynamic there in that particular game and as such it hones their mentality and hones those skills.

“I think it appeals to a lot of the players, to be in that environment and competing for something tangible.”

At the end of each season, Liverpool Schools host a big end of season awards show where they bring together all of the different age groups in order to celebrate their efforts across the season.

Reidel spoke on the importance of these awards, saying: “All the teams and all the players see themselves as part of something bigger than just their team – in the past teams would exist separately, so it was quite hard for them to understand what they were really a part of. But when they attend the end of year presentation, they see the pathway and what they are a part of”

“We usually invite some ex-players to come down to present, for example it was Jayden Danns who presented last year with Michael Laffey.

“To see those boys who played for us in the past, give up their time to present those sorts of awards, (the kids) can see a pathway then, it’s part of ‘well I could do that’ and they’ve been sat where I am”.

Liverpool Schools have instilled an importance in creating fantastic memories for young footballers from a young age. Whether they reach the heights of professional football or not, many former players frequently talk about their fondness for the time they spent at the academy, with some returning as coaches.

“A couple of our coaches were at Liverpool, Everton, Tranmere and have been professional players, and you know didn’t quite make it to the very highest level and are now in careers as teachers

“When I chat to them, they talk about their time playing for the Liverpool School Boys and what fantastic memories they were and all the great times they had. The great trips they went on and the tours they went on, the games they played, and they speak about it all incredibly fondly.

“Speaking to them, they wouldn’t change their experience at Liverpool Schools for the world. I was speaking to one the other day and that if they just played at Liverpool and had their career as they had it and not experienced the schoolboys then they would have missed out on something that they really remember with fondness and cherish.”

Reidel praised the support they have received recently, stating “Thanks to all our sponsors and support in particular from LFC Foundations, Ian Byrne MP, and Fans Supporting Foodbanks along with the Fowler and Gerrard Academies. Without the support of all of these it would be difficult to provide the opportunities for the children that we do. And of course, the Liverpool ECHO itself, which has sponsored us for many years!”.

Liverpool Schools are always looking for new players/coaches and have recently opened their 2024/25 nomination forms: https://www.liverpoolschoolsfa.org.uk/nomination-forms-for-202425/