Last week Gillingham FC Community Trust attended the National Finals of the Kinder + Sports Futsal Cup hosted by the Derby County FC Community Trust at the Derby Arena Sports Centre.

The Kinder +Sport Futsal Cup is a new schools competition for Under 16 Boys and Girls run by the Football League Trust, which kicked off this season seeing thousands of Year 10 and 11 students battle it out to represent their local club at the National Final. 

The Howard School and the Rainham School for Girls represented Gillingham FC at the finals, having progressed via the Area Finals held at Leyton Orient at the start of the year, both were eager to impress and be crowned the first winners of the Kinder + Sport Futsal Cup. 

The boys and the girls’ competition would be spilt in to two groups, each playing 15 minutes straight through and the top two from each progressing to the semi-finals. In the boys cup the winning schools came from Hartlepool, Mansfield, Preston North End, Tranmere Rovers, Exeter City, Luton Town and Oxford United and the girls included teams from Swindon, Mk Dons, Brentford, Blackburn Rovers, Bradford City, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

After a short briefing and a last minute run through of the rules and regulations, the fixtures were announced; up first for girls were Swindon and Oxford for the boys. Both teams came through their first game unscathed and three points, with the girls recording an impressive 3-0 win over Swindon.  

The teams then had a short break, which gave them an opportunity to check out their competition, regrettably though this didn’t pay off as the girls lost to a strong Brentford team, while the boys lost to Exeter. 

Going in to the last games both teams knew they had to win to be in with a chance of progressing. The girls gave a stand out performance to secure the win against MK Dons and second spot, finishing runners up to Brentford. The boys unfortunately couldn’t replicate the girls result and after a hard game against Luton they were knocked out at the group stages.    

After a short break the boys were up playing to find out where they would finish in the tournament. After a shaky opening few minutes against Tranmere, the boys found their rhythm and passing game to win the game and finish seventh overall.

Up next came the semi-finals for the girls and they were drawn against the team from Wolves who were the early favourites. The girls played really well, pressing high and not giving their opposition many chances to score and with the Gills keeper pulling off some amazing saves the match finished a draw. This meant penalties would decide who would progress to the final and would be the best of three. Our first penalty saw the Wolves keeper pull off an amazing save, putting the Gills on the back foot from the get go. 
Wolves then stepped up and slotted away their first penalty, then watched as their keeper again made a fine save to deny the Gills. This meant that Wolves just needed to score their second and they were through and score they did, leaving the Gills in a finishing position of third overall and third in the country.

Well done and thank you to both The Howard School and Rainham School for Girls who represented themselves, their school and Gillingham FC in a professional manner and congratulations for an incredible journey in the first Football League Trust Kinder + Sport Futsal Cup, we look forward to next seasons competition.