Winning team meet the lads
Carlisle United Football Club received a very special visit last Thursday when the lads from the Noble Hill Primary School in Dumfries popped along to meet Greg Abbott and the players following their success in the Sands Centre five-a-side schools competition.
2013 was the 25th anniversary of one of the country's biggest children's football competitions and around 15,000 girls and boys have taken part since the competition first started back in 1986 under the guidance of Clive Beck.
This year 110 teams from 80 different schools across Cumbria and South-West Scotland competed over the course of a three-week period - and Noble Hill ran out as winners following some very stiff competition.
"We only had 26 schools in the first year but it has grown and grown," Clive explained. "It started when the Sands was first opened and it was ideally suited to a tournament like this.
"January is also the best time of year to stage an indoor event as many children can't get out to play football at school because of the weather. There will always be a strong demand for a tournament like this. Sadly I have to turn teams away because we have to limit numbers, and we have a waiting list each year."
"In the early days it was rare to see girls playing, even though we never specified that it was a boys competition," he added. " The girls competition has been running for 10 years and that has been one of the growth areas. Girls football is recognised as the fastest growing sports in Britain. We now have 30 girls teams taking part, which is incredible."
After four games in a round-robin format, teams then advance to the knockout stage.
But even if schools are knocked out early in the competition, there is still a chance to win some silver wear.
The Most Sporting Team trophy is presented annually to a school whose pupils have shown the best attitude and behaviour towards the game, officials and fellow players. The winning team is selected by the referees.
"It was fantastic to see how proud the lads were of their achievement," Carlisle boss Greg Abbott said. "It's hard to win any competition at any level so we were delighted when we were asked to present the trophy.
"I think the boys enjoyed meeting some of our players and hopefully it was a little bit more of a reward for the hard work they have put in."