Players from a Newcastle school traded Pokeballs for footballs, when their team made it through to the final of the inaugural Pokemon Primary Schools’ Cup. The team from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School were one of just six from around the country to qualify for The Under-11 Small Schools’ Cup Final, which took place at Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium, under the watchful eye of outsized yellow Pokemon mascot Pikachu.

The team had won the Northumberland and Newcastle Small Schools’ Trophies, which led them to the North of England Finals,” explained Vinny Turner, Headteacher and Football Coach at St Teresa’s, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust. “The players then finished in the top two out of a group of six to represent Northumberland County in the prestigious national Finals – the first time the school has reached a national final in any sport. On the day, the team had to play three group game fixtures,” he continued. “The final match for St Teresa’s was the third-fourth place play-off. That game ended 1-1, meaning that the team were joint third in the Pokemon Small Schools’ National Finals – a great effort in a highly competitive tournament.

Although Team St Teresa’s missed out on the win, more than 5,000 school teams and 50,000 children took part in the event, making the players’ achievement all the more remarkable.

All the children should be immensely proud of themselves for going so far in the tournament with such a small squad,” added Mr Turner. “I think we were the only team with no subs on the day, which makes the children’s efforts even more impressive. They all showed great resilience to bounce back from the disappointment of the semi-final defeat to dig in and battle to a hard-fought draw to claim joint third place – a superb achievement!

The English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) annual tournament was being run in collaboration with Pokemon for the first time, and comprised three separate competitions: The Under-11 Schools’ Cup, The Under-11 Girls’ Cup, and The Under-11 Small Schools’ Cup.

With Team Ash nowhere to be seen, first place in The Under-11 Small Schools’ Cup went to Alma Primary School from Middlesex, while The Under-11 Girls’ Cup was won by St Walpurga’s Primary School from Dorset, and The Under-11 Schools’ Cup by Harpur Hill Primary School from Derbyshire.

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