More than a game

'PL Primary Stars tournament helps us believe anything is possible'

By Mark Orlovac & Layton Ryan-Parson 8 Jul 2024
Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament 2024 composite v3

Hear from players, teachers and referees about what taking part in this year's Premier League Primary Stars football tournament means to them

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Brentford FC's Gtech Community Stadium was the venue as children across England and Wales lived out their dreams recently as part of the latest Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament.

The two-day event gave schoolchildren the opportunity to experience the life of a Premier League footballer for the day, playing at a Premier League stadium and wearing their club's kit, all under the watchful eye of Professional Game Match Officials Limited referees.

Thousands of children from schools across England and Wales had competed for the chance to represent their local clubs in this year's tournament, one of the competition elements of the Premier League Primary Stars education programme.

Day one featured schools representing Premier League clubs, with Everton FC's Dovedale Primary School winning the Under-11 girls' competition and Brighton & Hove Albion's Maidenbower Junior School claiming the Under-11 mixed trophy.

Here, those that took part tell the story of an incredible day.

Ruby, captain, Dovedale Primary School
Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament 2024, Everton, Ruby

"I feel very happy, excited and proud, it's not everyday things like this happen. When the final whistle went, I couldn't really believe it. It's been a special day. Lifting the trophy was so good because all of your team is behind you, all your team is cheering.

"At the start of the day. I didn't know what to expect because I haven't played against these teams before. You didn't know who to keep an eye on and who to mark. That feeling went when we started playing, though.

"Our team works really well together. We all have different strengths. Our teamwork and our quality got us through. We gelled together. We didn't lose a match!

"I'll take away from today that I got to represent Everton. I am a Liverpool fan but to represent Everton is amazing. We're representing the city.

"This really promotes girls football. Before, not a lot of girls really had an opportunity to play, they do now. It's so much better. It shows anyone that they can get involved and encourages them to start a team at school if there isn't one already."

Elliot McGuffie, school business manager, Maidenbower Junior School
Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament 2024, Brighton

"It's an unbelievable feeling to win the tournament. We came close last year but to return, go all the way and take home the trophy, especially for the children, seeing how happy and excited it has made all of them has made everything that we have put into trying to get here really worth it.

"To see that emotion come out at the end showed how much all that hard work has really paid off for them. They're moving on to secondary school next year. We'll miss them all dearly. I couldn't have hoped for a better end.

"What's fantastic are the skills and qualities that they have developed as a team, looking out for one another, their communication skills, but also taking onboard the values that Premier League Primary Stars competition embodies. They're just as an impressive group of boys off the pitch and it's an honour to be able to say that I'm their football coach."

Crystal Palace
Trey, The Minster Junior School
Crystal Palace Trey, The Minster Junior School, Premier League Primary Stars

"I love football. It's my life really. Our teachers help us every day and that has helped us get better. The other teachers congratulate us and we are recognised for doing good things for our school.

"To be a part of this and to experience a tournament like today is just amazing. Playing at a Premier League stadium, with my friends, is fantastic.

"Being a part of this team means everything to me. We love each other and we stick together. I am going to remember this for the rest of my life.

"It was exciting to lead my team, my friends out. Being with my friends is a big thing. It wouldn't be the same without them here. It will make me even more passionate about being a professional."

Stacey Fullicks, Women's Super League referee
Stacey Fullicks, WSL referee, Premier League Primary Stars

"The atmosphere is superb. It's my first time at an event like this and taking it all in you can feel how fantastic this experience is for the players. 

"I'd like to think that me being a ref is something to look up to and hopefully they'd like to get into refereeing. If not refereeing, you never know they might be in the WSL one day.

"I've got some great colleagues with me at today's tournament and I'm having lots of fun. There's also some great sportsmanship going on and that makes it even more enjoyable. Dream big, be resilient and just put your all in girls. You've got this."

Danielle Carter, England Lioness and London City forward
Danielle Carter, Premier League Primary Stars

"I wouldn't mind being a few years younger myself to participate in this! It's really good that youngsters have these opportunities, to play in stadiums, to play on nice pitches, with their friends. They're learning so much more than just football.

"These experiences will stay with the children for life. They're playing in front of a big crowd, it's crazy. It's these early memories that they'll be able to share with their friends and look back and say, 'I've done that.'

"Wearing Premier League shirts and being in a place like this, it gives them that feeling that they are good enough. Today will make them feel almost like superstars and it gives them a taste of what can come if they work hard. It raises aspirations. If I had this when I was younger, it would have helped drive me even more."

Olivia Wilson, Year 4/5 class teacher and PE lead, former Burnley FC Women player
Burnley, Olivia Wilson, former Burnley FC Women player, Premier League Primary Stars

"Being a part of this tournament is amazing. We've been looking forward to it for so long. It's gives the girls that confidence and the feeling that they are good enough. It's massive to see the amount of girls that are here and playing and enjoying football. This is an occasion they will remember forever.

"We're so proud of them, we can't believe that they are getting to experience this. I wish I'd had this when I was at school.

"When they first walked out at the stadium, they were a bit taken aback. This is the first time they've all played on a pitch like this. Then they were really excited, they couldn't wait to get going.

"They should be proud of themselves, with what they've achieved. No matter what happens, they've have had a great time and they are going to be an inspiration to a lot of children in school. All the younger ones are now going to look up to them and they are now the role models. 

Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament 2024, Burnley

"PL Primary Stars is massive for us. I don't know where we'd be without it because they have provided so many opportunities. We always take examples from the core values of the Premier League, we want to really get that into the pupils.

"A tournament like this is so important for raising the profile of women's football. We are here alongside the mixed teams, the boys are cheering us on and we're cheering the boys on, it just shows the inclusiveness of football and where it's going."

West Ham United
Ava, St Helen's Catholic Primary School
West Ham United, Ava, St Helen's Catholic Primary School, Premier League Primary Stars

"I'm very grateful that I'm able to be here. When I walked in, I was amazed. When I walked through the tunnel, I was like, 'oh my gosh. It's so big.' I can't believe I'm here. I've never been able to feel this way. It's been the best day.

"Being a part of today is going to make me push more. It's made me more determined. I really want to be a footballer now.

"I never thought I'd be able to represent a Premier League club, when I was little I could barely kick a ball. Now, I'm here.

"Having this tournament makes girls know that they can also play football and that's important to me because girls should be treated in the same way that boys are.

"Being a part of this team will make us feel that if we can do this, we can do anything. Our school is very proud of us, especially our headteacher. I think we're inspiring other girls with what we've done.

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Nick Pearce, assistant headteacher, St Stephen's Church of England Primary School
Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nick Pearce, St Stephen's Church of England Primary School, Premier League Primary Stars

"We're from a really small school in Wolverhampton. They are an unbelievable group of children and what a reward this is for all of their hard work. It's unreal. What the Premier League have done, the way they've organised it, making every single child feel special, giving them photo opportunities, it's amazing.

"You can see their faces when they were coming into London, just looking at everything that's around them. If they want to move forward in their careers, if they want to work in London, if they want to get these big jobs, it's absolutely massive. It's really aspirational for them.

"When we saw the team come out of the tunnel my feelings were just pride. I'm proud of absolutely every single one of those kids and for the parents as well, because they have backed us to the hilt.

"I'll take from this that even as a small school, even in the small community we've got, we are capable. As long as we put the effort in as teachers, as schools, as outside agencies, we can inspire these children to achieve really great things."

Ethan, Latchmere School
Fulham Ethan, Latchmere School, Premier League Primary Stars

"Representing Fulham is a dream come true. Being here today means a lot to me. It's good to be with your friends because you can experience the moment with them.

"I've learnt about teamwork and I have improved at football. I'm also closer with the other players in my team. We are not in the same classes but we've got a team bond now.

"The team really enjoys coming back to school and telling everyone about how we've done. People come up to you and say, 'well done.' It's a nice feeling.

"I try to take the PL Primary Stars values of being ambitious, inspiring, connected and fair into all of my matches. I like learning about the values and how they work.

"You can carry them into other sports as well. It's about how you conduct yourself at school, shaking hands at the end of the game, being friendly after the final whistle and listening to other people."

Graham Scott, Premier League referee
Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament 2024, Graham Scott

"This has been such a great day. The spirit in which the games have been played, the standard of the football in both competitions, has been excellent. Hopefully we have been able to enhance that by ensuring that the game was played fairly so everyone can be in the right spirit.

"It's been great to be here, it's a really good occasion. This is all about participation and excellence together. I've seen both and it's great to see the boys and girls playing together and giving it their best shot.

"There's been some fantastic sportsmanship. There was a player quite upset because they needed a win to go through but they lost and one of the opponents came over, gave him a big hug and tried to make him feel better. Things like that live with you."

Newcastle United
Matt Lawn, PE lead, Walkergate Community School
Newcastle United Matt Lawn, Walkergate Community School PE lead, Premier League Primary Stars

"Our team are a great group of lads. Good characters. Very respectful. Playing here, with all the parents watching on, is something they will never forget. It's a brilliant experience and one they will look back on as probably their biggest memory from primary school.

"They're very lucky to be here. They deserve to be here but there's also other children who would love this opportunity so make the most of it, take it all in and try your best.

"To be here they have to be on top of their schoolwork, and their behaviour and attendance has got to be on track to represent the school. That sense of achievement for them is huge.

"Watching the players come out I was buzzing. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. We could see what it means to the parents as well, they were all cheering. It was just amazing.

Premier League Primary Stars Football Tournament 2024, Newcastle

"We use PL Primary Stars resources and they are really good, everything's done right. It's brilliant. We use it throughout the whole of the PE curriculum. Newcastle United Foundation coaches come in and have upskilled our staff.

"PE is as important as every other subject, if not more for some children. Sport is so much more than what goes on on the pitch or court. It's friendships, understanding about winning and losing, how to be resilient."

What is Premier League Primary Stars?

Premier League Primary Stars is the Premier League's primary school education programme, using the appeal of football to support children to be active and develop essential life skills. It is available to every primary school in England and Wales, with over 19,000 schools engaged with the programme. More than 1.3million school sessions and events have already been delivered.

Funded by the Premier League, through the Premier League Charitable Fund, the programme has enabled over 68,000 teachers to use resources for English, PSHE, PE and Maths, to help children to be active and develop essential life skills. There are 650+ free resources available.

Currently 104 professional football club charities from the National League to the Premier League run in-classroom Premier League Primary Stars sessions in local schools, with over 18m attendances by primary school pupils.

To find out more about delivering the programme in your school, please visit

More than a game

The "More than a game" campaign showcases the support the Premier League provides for communities and the wider game.

The Premier League has provided world-leading levels of investment into communities and football at all levels in England and Wales, with a £1.6billion contribution over three years, equating to 16 per cent of the League's total revenue.

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