On Friday 20th May, the Year 10 football team represented NSB in the English Schools' Football Association U15 National Final. This is the first time the school has reached a national final in football and only the third time a team from Northamptonshire has achieved this feat.
The game was played at Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United FC and our opponents on the day were Lancaster School from Leicester. The game was an evenly matched contest between two good sides both of whom had progressed through nine rounds of competition to reach this stage. The NSB boys gave of their best but were eventually beaten 1 - 0 after the Lancaster forward poached a winner with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
Around 1000 schools entered this competition and whilst the result did not go our way, reaching the national final was a tremendous achievement. This was a great day out, Sheffield Utd and the ESFA ensured that the boys enjoyed the day to the full, as did the 100 travelling NSB supporters who were able to attend the match and cheered the lads on throughout the 80 minutes of play. One of the lessons to be learnt in sport is how to face defeat with dignity and the NSB students were a credit to the school in both the way they played and the way they conducted themselves throughout the day. Though the defeat was hard to take at the time, the players will look back on this experience with fond memories.
The achievement of reaching the national final should not have come as a surprise to those involved in the delivery of football at the school. It is reflective of the progress made in the development of the football programme at NSB. There has been a real sense of momentum about school football over recent years, one of the contributing factors for which has been the development of the floodlit rubber crumb facility and the school now has a programme to rival that of any school in the country:
There are A team squads at every age group, training twice a week with the PE Team's football specialists and local EUFA 'A Licence' coach Jon Brady of 'Back of the Net' coaching.
Staff from the wider school community and senior players support the weekly B and C team training sessions at lower years and there is also a healthy Year 7 recreational league on Friday lunchtimes.
|There are over 150 boys involved in school football on a weekly basis throughout the season and this year the school was involved in over 70 competitive fixtures against other schools on both a local and national stage.|
Links have been established with Northampton Town FC and the school now plays host to the Centre of Excellence training and game day programmes across the youth set up from U8 to U16.
The growing programme has provided a structure for boys of the school to access the kinds of games and audience that encourages progression into academy football with local professional clubs. At the school currently we have 21 boys playing with either Northampton Town or Rushden & Diamonds Centres of Excellence, including four who leave Year 11 this summer to join one of these clubs on the Youth Scholarship basis.
It has become the norm for the teams from the various age groups to perform well in the Northamptonshire County Cups. There are five competitions every year for boys in the county and of the 15 trophies available over the last three seasons NSB has won eight.
In national competition the school is now regularly reaching the last 32 stage at most age groups, and in addition to this year's National Final over the past three years we have seen teams reach the quarter final stage twice and the last 16 stage on three other occasions.
The Year 8 'Soccer Tour' to Arizona and California is now in its seventh year and has become an established annual event. Last year the touring team played against LAFC Chelsea, ranked number 1 in America at their age group, and for this coming October the school has secured a fixture against LA Galaxy. In addition to this, in July the school will host the U17 squad of Desert Foothills SC from Phoenix as they take their first tour to the UK.
A relationship has been established with Pass4Soccer to offer students leaving the 6th Form the opportunity to apply for 'soccer scholarships' in the American University structure. We currently have 3 students being educated in the USA and two more intending to start in September.
Football at NSB has never been healthier and the achievements of the Under 15 squad this year must serve as a catalyst for the boys at other age groups to now drive the school's football programme forward further still, to further national finals and one day the national title.