Castle in the Spotlight

9. Primary School Cup…

In line with Castle Juniors’ dedication in supporting local primary schools and helping maintain an active lifestyle for children across the area, the Primary Schools Cup was established as an end-of-term competition where schools could compete in a fun but testing manner to determine who takes bragging rights.

Starting in 2017, it started small, with eight mixed teams across six schools competing, though it has risen meteorically in participation in the four years since with treble the number of teams present in the previous edition; twenty-four teams across twelve schools fighting to take home the crown, enabling the teachers to channel their inner ‘Peps’ on the touchline and find new ways to win.

Moreover, in line with representing the whole community, an all-girls section was established to run concurrently as part of the club’s commitment to contributing to a women’s game very much on the rise in Northern Ireland. This was established in 2018, and the Primary Schools Cup has proved a valuable tool in promoting the values of Castle Juniors to aspiring young female footballers. Director of Football, Kyle Spiers is keen to oversee the development of Castle Ladies, and understanding the players’ qualities can be done in a tournament such as this.

“We are delighted to participate in the Castle Juniors Primary Schools Cup on an annual basis. The event is always very well-run and is a fantastic experience for our boys and girls,” so said Towerview Primary’s Mr. Beckett. What’s more, this event comes free of charge and always will be for our local schools, so as long as Castle Juniors can host this, it will always be as accessible as possible to all who wish to take part.

With the ability to work alongside the club’s qualified coaches, the players can take on board professional tips and hints to try and get one over on their opposition going forward, promoting clean and sportsmanlike football from the start and gaining an understanding of how the club goes about developing talents. With the tournament usually starting in late May or early June, the pressure is off and the children can simply enjoy themselves, playing their best game with high-quality (perspective-dependent!) officiating to make sure every game is as fairly-contested as possible.

There are plans to expand the competition to include P4 and P5-aged children, again signifying continued growth and representation and again fitting in line with the ethos of community development. This would enable Castle Juniors to continue expanding their reach and strengthening their status as a hub in this respect, being the only team in the North Down and Ards borough to offer this.

In summing up, it is Castle Juniors’ great privilege to be keeping children active, offering new dimension to extra-curricular activities and always being at the service of local primary schools who would like to get involved. Continual growth and expansion is of highest importance to the club, with schools knowing that they are here to help and find new ways to deliver physical education to those at an age where this is vital. It also helps strengthen bonds among schools with Castle Juniors effectively as a mediator, helping connect them through football and give something different.

Transparency is ever so pivotal among local institutions, and gestures like these convey just how passionate the club is to help the community.

By Lewis Bennett