Festival of Football success

Club's yearly event sees impressive turnout from the local community

Local youngsters recently took part in the club’s annual Under Seven Festival of Football in conjunction with the Bolton, Bury and District Junior League.

Organised by the club’s academy in order to engage with the local grassroots football community, the event was held at Bolton Arena with 300 six-year-old children taking part and focuses heavily on the partnership scheme with the Bolton and Bury Football League.

With 40 teams competing in total, the scheme itself has been crucial in the development of young talent in the area with a number of youngsters earning themselves a place in Wanderers’ youth set-up in the process.

Speaking following the event, one of the club’s recruitment officers John Haworth explained just how integral the competition has become to the local area and paid tribute to the young players who impressed during the day itself.

"One of my roles is to build up links between the Academy and local clubs," he said. "This festival is merely the tip of the iceberg into the vast amount of work that goes into this on an on-going basis.

"By creating the event, we’re basically reinforcing what we already know about the kids in the league and aim to give them a taster of what we’re about at Bolton Wanderers.

"We saw every boy who came into the league for the first time this year – it’s the first age group that they come into at the academy.

"However we continue to monitor the progress of all the teams throughout the season as boys can naturally develop at differing rates."

He added: "They all got a certificate with their name on - it might be the first thing that they’ve got and it has the Bolton Wanderers name on it, so it was great to see so many smiling faces when they were receiving them.

"There were no winners and losers – they all participated in the same number of games."

Haworth also explained the previous success of the scheme in regards to the club’s academy and how he believes that it is a process which will only flourish in the years to come.

"We have a lot of players in the academy set-up who we got from the Bolton & Bury League,” he added. “As a club, you’re always keen to start on your own doorstep and that’s one of the ways which we try to do that.

"Andrew Kellett who now plays in our development squad was actually discovered via this event, so he’s a true academy product.

"He’s gone through the whole system, whereas a lot of clubs buy them at the age of 15 and 16 and say they’re an academy product when they’re not.

"It was a great link-in with grassroots – there’s a big perception that the only thing which academies do is take, take, take, so this is a real attempt to give something back and engage with the league and the community."
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