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Garlick: Under-9 Festival gives kids life skills

26 Sep 2018
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Director of Football explains the aims of the Premier League tournament in Warwick

Hundreds of boys got their first step of their Premier League journey at the Under-9 Welcome Festival this month at Warwick.

The best boys in the country from 29 Premier League and Category One Academies were introduced to the Premier League Games Programme with matches in a fun and friendly environment.

'Not just about the football'

"It's not just about the skills; it's not just about the football," Richard Garlick, the Premier League's Director of Football, says in the video above.

"It's about giving them the skills in life that are going to make them not only better players, but better human beings as well."

The festival was also a chance for the boys' families to get a taste of what to expect from Academies and the League as they support their development on and off the pitch.

"It's equally as important for the parents to get a feel for what today's about," Garlick says. "It's their first interaction publicly with the Premier League.

"They've got an opportunity to speak to us, they've got an opportunity to speak to our educators; they've got an opportunity to see how other parents work, how the coaches work, how the clubs conduct themselves."

First overnight stay

Before the festival, the players stayed overnight away from home, which was the first time for many.

On the day itself, there were a variety of games and interactive experiences for all attendees to enjoy, as well as dance-offs and even a race between club mascots.

"We're all competitive people, we work in football, we want to win games, but it is about them having fun and just having an experience," Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy coach Mark McLaren adds.

"I think the main part of it is probably the staying overnight, being away from their parents, being outside their comfort zone a little bit."

Fulham coach Marcus Herron adds that the festival also provides an element of competition many will not have experienced.

"They get a great opportunity to play lots of different teams that they wouldn't always play," Herron says. "And they have lots of fun, play lots of games, and go home happy at the end of it."

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