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Premier League Writing Stars winners revealed

21 Mar 2019

Rio Ferdinand leads tributes to the quality of 25,000 entries submitted as the two national winning poems are selected

The Premier League Writing Stars judging panel has paid tribute to all of the 25,000 entrants to this year's competition after they announced the two national winners.

"Being Different", written by a group of Year 1 pupils from St Finbar's Catholic Primary School in Liverpool (pictured above) claimed the Key Stage 1 prize.

Read: 'Being Different'

The winning poem for Key Stage 2 was "An Ordinary Girl from Birmingham" by nine-year-old Maariya, of Heathfield Primary School in Birmingham, after a tough selection process .

Read: 'An Ordinary Girl from Birmingham'

"We were sitting there, saying, 'Are these kids really this age, writing this?' " said former Premier League footballer and PL Writing Stars judge Rio Ferdinand.

"Some of the vocabulary, the language, the ideas and the way the poems took shape... it seemed more like university students!

"Congratulations to all the kids who took part because it has been a really difficult task going through all the entries and finding the winner. We could have picked so many."

Diversity theme

The second edition of the competition was themed on diversity and encouraged five to 11-year-olds to explore what makes us "Beautifully different, Wonderfully the Same", using a poem written especially for Writing Stars by Joseph Coelho.

The poet, along with Ferdinand, Waterstones Children's Laureate Lauren Child and singer-songwriter Olly Murs, judged entries on a range of criteria including creativity, tone and originality.

"It’s incredible to see children using poetry to put their feelings about diversity on paper"

Olly Murs

As well as the two national winners, the panel also selected 10 regional winners across both Key Stage 1 and 2.

"I was so impressed by the Premier League Writing Stars entries," Murs said. "It's the first time I've been involved so I didn't really know what to expect but, wow! They exceeded my expectations.

"The quality of the writing is amazing. It’s incredible to see children using poetry and their imagination to put their feelings about diversity on paper."

Trophy visit

The two winning poets received their certificates from Coelho, who also led poetry workshops at their schools, which received a visit from the Premier League Trophy.

Illustrator David Mackintosh has created pictures that will feature alongside the winners' poems in a limited-edition Writing Stars book, which will be published and distributed to schools later this year.

"Poetry is one of the most powerful ways to communicate and express how you're feeling inside," said Child, author the Charlie and Lola series.

"By having the football community value the importance of reading and writing, it speaks to children who may not have written a poem before."

Inspiring children

PL Writing Stars is supported by the National Literacy Trust and is part of the Premier League Primary Stars education programme.

Since its launch in 2017, Primary Stars has used the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills in more than 16,000 primary schools across England and Wales.

See: Winning poems celebrate diversity from the heart

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