FOOTBALL may not have come home for the England men's team, but it did for some Suffolk players on Sunday.
Suffolk FA staged a Euro 2020 Disability Festival on the new 3G football surface at Copleston High School in Ipswich, giving some players their first chance to play for more than a year.
The festival, which was sponsored by Blue Square Solutions Ltd, attracted 13 teams - Chelmsford City, Coplestonians, Healthy 4 Life (seven teams), ITFC Community, Needham Market and Wot’s Up Warriors (two teams).
Coplestonians FC, who are based at the school, have agreed to be the home for The Wot’s Up iCAN football league for the 2021-22 season, with Sunday’s festival the first of several to be held there.
Players at the Euro 2020 Disability Festival pose for a photograph to show their support to the England men's team ahead of Sunday night's Euro 2020 Final versus Italy at Wembley Stadium. Main photograph: Action from the festival at Copleston High School in Ipswich
Suffolk FA Inclusive Football Development Officer Kirsty Smith said: “The festival was a huge success and honestly one of the best festivals we have ever delivered!
“It was so nice to get everyone together again and playing football. Even though a lot of these players haven’t played for well over a year due to the pandemic, the standard of football on show and their commitment and effort was unbelievable.
“They didn’t stop running around or smiling all day and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves – even the sun didn’t stop shining all day!
“We recorded a message to the England team ready for Sunday’s Euro 2020 Cup Final with the players all singing ‘It’s Coming Home’ whilst waving England flags – which was incredible!
“Their energy and passion for the lads was so infectious and it has enjoyed quite a lot of attention on social media which is great!
“The past 16 months for everyone has been very challenging, both physically and mentally, so to see everyone come through it, playing football again, enjoying themselves - really is a fantastic sight!
“It does put things into perspective and makes you realise just how powerful football can be and the impact it has on people’s lives.
“Thank you to Copleston High School for hosting and David McGregor for all his help on the day! This will hopefully be the first of many festivals we deliver this season and hopefully we can get back to normal and play football consistently again.”