The Suffolk FA Grassroots Festival is one of the highlights of the football calendar in the county.
The festival was first held in 2011 at Portman Road, home of Ipswich Town FC, before taking place the following year at Trinity Park on the outskirts of the town.
As the festival has grown in size and stature it moved to Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich. More than 4,000 visitors flocked to Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich to attend the two-day 2016 festival.
The Euro 2016-themed festival featured a record number of 145 teams. There were opportunities for boys and girls in every youth age group from under-7s to under-16s in the various 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 formats.
For the first time the festival also featured a showcase match on Sunday which saw the Suffolk FA Under-12 Girls’ Advanced Coaching Centre side lose 5-4 to their Cambridgeshire FA counterparts.
The 2017 Festival was again run with a Premier League theme - just as it had been two years before, again at Gainsborough Sports Centre, with 136 teams in attendance. The festival consisted of a pause in play due to a thunderstorm and Wildcats Girls teams taking part for the first time.
The 2018 and 2019 Festivals were both held at Whitton United FC on the outskirts of Ipswich.
In 2018 the festival had more than 130 teams compete from under-7s to under-16s, while there was a disability festival and 11v11 football for the first time. There was also an Under-13 Girls Cup Final take place on Sunday afternoon between Beccles Town and Ipswich Valley Rangers, who won 2-0.
In 2019 a record 175 teams, mainly boys, girls’ and mixed aged from under-7 to under-16, participated in the festival, which also featured a youth disability and walking football festival for the first time. Kelly Smith, former Arsenal and England international also attended on the Saturday.
Unfortunately, due to Covid the 2020 and 2021 festival were unable to go ahead.
Ipswich-based business KBB were sponsors of the festival up until 2021. Roger Peck, a director of KBB, and his family supported the festival for nine years and helped develop to where it is today.
Suffolk FA Football Development Officer James Morley said: “The Grassroots Festival is a celebration of football in Suffolk. Our aim of the festival is to give everyone a great experience of football.
“The festival supports teams and players moving up into new formats the chance to experience that format before the forthcoming season.”