A SUFFOLK school’s Under-16 side has reached the semi-final of a national cup competition.
Newmarket Academy boys have made it through to the semi-finals of the English Schools’ Football Association Small Schools’ Cup.
The West Suffolk side secured their place in the semi-finals after travelling to Richmond and beating Ibstock Place School 2-0.
The squad have had a more than convincing run in the cup with some high-scoring games including a 6-0 win over Archbishop Sancroft High School, a 4-2 win over Hylands School and a 7-2 victory in the fourth round against The Martin High School Anstey.
Head of PE Lee Crick, whose side now face LeAF Studio from Bournemouth in the semi-final on March 17th at Newmarket Town FC, said the boys have been brilliant throughout the competition.
He said: “The team have done fantastically well to get this far, and have exceeded my expectations, although I entered them due to a confidence that they could potentially do well in the competition, having won the U15 West Suffolk League and remained unbeaten last year.
“This competition was a bit of a step in to the unknown for me, but the boys were very keen and excited when I told them I had entered them.
“The squad themselves have remained excited throughout, often keeping me updated on latest results, opponents and goings on by viewing websites and following schools on social media. In many ways, it has been a healthy distraction for them during this very intense build up to their GCSE exams in a few months.
He continued: “The rest of the school are firmly behind the boys, and after their quarter final victory. The Senior Leadership and other staff have been amazing in their support too, giving us time off to compete and helping in any way they can. Many staff came to watch our last home game, which took place after school hours.
“We have also been getting many well wishes from other schools, organisations, local clubs and family and friends from both the players and even staff. It really feels like the community of Newmarket is all behind them.
“Personally, I am delighted and incredibly proud of every single member of the squad that has played a part in getting us this far. I firmly believe that it takes every squad member to play a part in a win.
“Every single person that has been part of the squad has contributed, and I honestly believe that their togetherness and spirit has been a huge factor in them getting this far.
“They are a unique bunch, who get on well together off the pitch and are so positive with each other during games. I find it rare and refreshing that there is not a blame culture with them, but one of encouragement.”
Crick spoke about the boy’s excitement for the semi-finals.
“The team are so excited for the semi-final, which is due to take place on Tuesday, March 17th at 2.30pm at Newmarket Town FC, there are also, naturally, some nerves, both with being just one step from a national final, but also with knowing almost nothing about the opposition.
“I know that it is likely to be a very difficult game, but equally I have complete trust that these boys will not let me down with their effort at any stage. They have risen from what looked like losing positions before, and I know that they will never give up.
“There is some talk that the Headteacher may even be considering how he can allow staff and students to come along and watch the match- he is very keen for as many people in the school community to support us, and I know it would make for a fantastic atmosphere.”