How to organise a kids’ football tournament

The romantic view of a row of fathers standing along the touchline in their coats on a crisp Sunday morning, happily watching their youngsters playing junior football, is a pleasant thought. Some stand stoically watching their son or daughter dispatch goal after goal, others get rather animated as the action heats up, and in certain circumstances there may even be other spectators of interest. In a tournament set-up there’s the potential for real excitement and drama which introduces youngsters to teamwork with a little dash of pressure thrown in for good measure.

As organiser there are several responsibilities that you have to take into account, but it need not be your sole responsibility. Mums and dads can help with administration, organising a venue, and fundraising, among other tasks. The venue needs to be somewhere with, as a bare minimum: toilets, good parking, a changing area, inflatable rides/attractions for youngsters not taking part, somewhere to dish out hot and cold drinks, and hot-dog/ice-cream vans.

Decide on a weekend date and if you are charging for children to take part, with money going to school/club funds, a charitable cause, or towards future sports tours through a company such as InvicTour Sports. You’ll also need a contribution towards an on-site medical team such as St John Ambulance, who will need clear entry and exit points. Make sure you include your details, and if relevant ask for teams’ league affiliation number.

Decide who will take part and get the invitations sent out early – a summer event (but not during the summer holiday) could be ok, but be wary of hot temperatures. The summer also might allow you to use a local football stadium for the day, and there’s certainly no harm in asking. Try to organise it for a weekend when little else is going on in the area.

If you’ve never organised a tournament before, it’s best to stick to one or two age groups at the most, because too many teams will make it a logistical nightmare. Five or seven a side games on a small pitch (or pitches) is the easiest option. Someone will need to be on-hand for each individual game, to referee and observe from a safety point of view.

A mini league system might be fair, as it gives teams several short (5-10 minutes at the most) games. Four groups of three or four, or two groups of five, will allow the winning teams to play each other in the semi-final/final. All entry information should be sent to the teams in good time.

Once the event starts to formulate, let the local media know – even if they don’t make it on the day they might publish a picture afterwards. Set up a Twitter account where interested parents can ask quick questions. You might even get requests for stalls from small local businesses, selling hot food and drink, football boots and so on.

It’s nice to have a memento for all participating players, whether they win or not.
A trophy will be needed for the winning team, which should be engraved at a later date. Make sure there’s a space big enough down the years for more names to be added – with a few great goals, combined with a fine spirit and hopefully a little sunshine, this could become a regular attraction for the area.

Where should your football team be looking for a summer bargain?

Another January transfer window is over, with the mantra that players come at a premium in the winter perhaps putting off many clubs from making a season-defining move.

Financial fair play has ensured that plenty of book-balancing needs to take place before an outlay is made on buying a player. Before the deadline day, the only real major money move was Manchester City’s purchase of Swansea’s Wilfred Bony. And those anticipating a final blowout will have been disappointed, with Chelsea’s move for Cuadrado the only stand out signing.

Teams are under increased scrutiny in terms of their accounts, so finding a player that doesn’t cost a premium is a necessity. Did Manchester City and its Premiership rivals miss the chance of a bargain by looking for the right player abroad using currency conversion rates?

2014 saw a lot of movement in terms of currency values, as global economic recoveries moved at vastly different paces and played out in global FX trading. That means that clubs in some countries can take advantage of dominant currencies: whereas others can find purse strings tightened. Further fluctuations will require a closer scrutinty of for all involved

Sunderland spent much of January seeking out a striker, for instance, before identifying Jermain Defoe as the new man to lead their line. That deal went through on January 16 but if the deal had gone through eight days earlier, the pound would have been worth three cents less against the Canadian dollar. That might not sound like much, but if the deal to buy Defoe was worth £10 million (the actual fee is undisclosed) it would have amounted to a $300,000 increase in cost.

Sunderland shouldn’t be celebrating too much, however, as waiting a week to sign Jermain Defoe on January 23 could have saved them a further $400,000.

All in all, though, Canada’s economic recovery and ties to the USA have ensured that its currency has not moved too much against the pound over the past few months. Perhaps Arsenal and Leicester had a better idea by hunting for new talent in eastern Europe: buying Krystian Bielik and Andrej Kramaric from Poland and Croatia respectively.

Currencies have suffered in both countries recently – thanks to weakness from the eurozone, amongst other issues – to the point where buying a player in late January 2015 could represent a saving of over 10% when compared to January 2014. For the signing of Andrej Kramaric, that would amount to around 1.11 kuna more for every pound spent, or almost $10 million kuna saved in the transfer (or £970,000).

But the best deal a club could have found in January would have come from Russia. Well known problems with oil prices, sanctions and economic mismanagement caused a tumble in the value of the rouble before Christmas, and while the rouble has recovered somewhat it would still amount to a 70% saving year-on-year for much of January.

Clearly, then, there is a lot of value to be found in being choosy about where you buy your players from. In terms of scouting for a summer bargain, though, where should clubs begin looking now?

Currently the currency looking ahead with dread is the euro. A new bout of quantitative easing, bumpy roads to recovery and the possibility of a collapse have all rocked the single currency in 2015. At the moment, most commentators do not see the euro returning to strength any time soon, instead questioning when it might hit parity with the dollar. For British clubs that could mean bargains in Germany, France, Italy or Spain.

Football Rivaries: Arsenal V Tottenham

Arsenal v Spurs

There are many teams in London and hence many derbies. Every week you can look at the fixture list and see teams from the capital squaring of across the division. But none of the derbies have ever quite managed to match the North London derby for passion, hype and excitement. Something magical happens when these two sides meet, and their rivalry is one of the bitterest and most passionate in the English game.

In the Premier League era, since the foundation of the division in 1992, Arsenal have been the dominant side. Spurs fans have had to watch as Arsenal won leagues (including the unbeaten season), qualified for the Champions League year in and year out and won domestic trophies. Arsene Wenger crafted his side into one of England’s “Top 4 clubs” and for a short time that top 4 seemed unreachable. Indeed, up to the start of the 2014-2015 season Spurs had only managed to finish above their rivals on two occasions. However, Spurs managed their own success winning the League Cup and moulding players like Gareth Bale into world beaters but the team were always fighting hard for their place in the upper reaches of the table. Only in the 2010s did Spurs manager to cement themselves in the Top 6 and turn into Champions League contenders, the gap truly began to close and the North London rivals are closer in the table than ever before.

From the very first meeting in 1897 until the Present day the North London derby has created memories, made heroes, caught out villains and provided entertainment for all to see.  White Hart Lane and Highbury (now the Emirates) have never been as electric as when the locals are in town and the fans seek out the fixture first when the list is published. A manager can be having a great season, but defeat in the North London derby can have fans turning.

Recent times have seen some exciting matches as both teams throw caution to win. Who can forget the 4-4 draw in 2008 or the back to back 5-2 wins Arsenal recorded at the Emirates in later years. Perhaps the most memorable game occurred in 2002 at White Hart Lane when a dominant Arsenal side emerged 5-4 victors in one of the Premier Leagues most thrilling matches. Whatever the occasion, whenever these two sides clash there is passion, joy, tears and emotion. This is one derby even neutral fans never want to miss.

Both teams are Premier League mainstays and with transfer fees paid out on world class players, strong youth policies and a long tradition, we will be treated to the North London derby, with all its glamour and passion for some time to come.

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The Men With The Golden Boots

Premier League Star Strikers

Sometimes it’s hard work being stood on the terraces, especially at this time of year. Stood cheering on your side, freezing cold. Knees numb, fingers as icy as Pierluigi Collina’s eyes, feet feeling like they’d want to escape and rest themselves in the warm stands of Malaga.

Except, whilst February might be approaching the minuses in the crowd, the pitch has its own micro-climate, because the Premier League is hotting up, none more so than in the race for the Golden Boot.

There have been some ruthless finishers in the top flight this season, with Diego Costa scoring seven goals in his first four games. It looked like that was the race over with 34 games still to play, but with 19 of those taken up, the tortoise is certainly approaching the hair, well if you can call Sergio Aguero and Alexi Sanchez tortoises.

We take a look at who might be crossing the line to win Gold come May…

Diego Costa


With 17 in 19 so far this season – his first in the Premier League – it’s fair to say Diego Costa has taken the league by storm. The former Atletico Madrid man is odds- on favourite with Bet Fred and doesn’t show any sign of letting up on the goals.

His partnership with Cesc Fabregas has already become one of the most lethal in Premier League history, and hats can certainly be tipped towards Jose Mourinho for his work in the market this summer.

Pressure will be on the man from Aguero, particularly with Costa’s recent three match ban which will see him miss further games against Aston Villa, and Everton, but if he continues in this vein of form, it’ll be incredibly tight.

Harry Kane


And speaking of a rich vein of form, Harry Kane is propelling himself up the Golden Boot table quicker than he’s putting them in the back of the net. The 21-year-old has put in some stellar performances this season bagging 10 goals in only 13 starts including an impressive brace and man of the match performance in Tottenham’s 5-3 win over Chelsea.

It’ll take some catching up for Kane but if Aguero’s knee problems continue and Costa’s ill-discipline and injury issues continue then he’s in with a chance and could become the first Englishman to top score in 15 years when Kevin Phillips banged in 30.

Charlie Austin

Charlie Austin

One man looking to join the likes of Phillips, Cole, Owen, and Shearer will be QPR’s Charlie Austin. He’s contributed over half of the R’s goals this season, netting 13 times, including a hat-trick in their 3-2 win over West Brom.

He will of course be more focussed on getting his side out of the bottom three and remaining in the Premier League, but the more goals he scores the more likely that will happen. No pressure Charlie…

Alexis Sanchez


Perhaps one of the signings of the season, Alexis Sanchez has been a revelation scoring 12 and laying on 7 in just 20 Premier League starts.

When started in attacking midfield positions he’s been phenomenal hitting home 10 in nine games and has been a major part in the Gunners winning seven of their last eight. The Chilean will have a major part to play in Arsene Wenger’s men finishing inside the top four, and with Giroud, Walcott, and Ozil back in the frame, they’ll be plenty of talent to play him through.

Sergio Aguero


With 14 goals in 15 games and four assists, Aguero may have the edge on Diego Costa, despite his flying start. Just three goals behind the Spaniard, the Argentinian is right on the Chelsea man’s heels and will be instrumental in City’s attempts to retain the title.

His lethal finishing has played a huge part on City remaining only five points behind Jose Mourinho’s men and following 2012’s dramatic finale, he fights to the very end.

Surprisingly, Aguero has yet to win the Golden Boot with third being his highest placed finish. Surely it’s only a matter of time?