Football Fever at ESMS Junior School

Posted on 18th Jun 2024 in The Junior School, Sport

Football fever is everywhere just now with the men’s UEFA Euro 2024 competition in full swing across Germany and, closer to home, the sport is going from strength-to-strength in the ESMS Junior School.

A large number of boys and girls now play football regularly in the Junior School under the coaching of teachers Mr Richard Allison and Mr Rob Raeburn-Garbett and, earlier in June, three teams were playing in Edinburgh Finals at Meggetland.

In those showpiece finals, the P6 boys won in the School Board Cup 12-2 versus Royal High, the P6/7 girls beat James Gillespie’s 6-0 in the EPSSA Cup and the P7 boys lost 3-0 in a well-contested Inspector’s Cup match versus Kirkliston.

“It was great to see three teams playing in big finals and it shows how far things have come in terms of football for youngsters at the school,” Mr Rob Raeburn-Garbett said.

“The P6 boys and the P6/7 girls played very well in their matches while the P7 boys gave it everything against strong opponents and were just 1-0 down until late on when they conceded a couple more goals as they chased the game.

“All three teams can be proud of their efforts and they really have come on well this year with their skill levels, and their team work is growing all the time. They also play with great sportsmanship and that is very important.”

There is a long way to go until the youngsters involved in these three teams and others involved in football at ESMS can dream of one day playing for Scotland, but Mr Allison and Mr Raeburn-Garbett are keen to set them off on the right path in their footballing journeys.

The duo have recently been coaching pupils from P4 to S1 and S2 as they climb up the ladder and then make the transition into more senior teams.

“We have been working with boys and girls from P4 to P7 most recently, and boys teams in S1 and S2 and it has been really good,” Mr Allison said.

“Obviously in the younger age groups there are lots of different levels of skill and experience to begin with. First and foremost we want them to enjoy time with their friends.

“Once they have been coming along for a few weeks and have made good bonds as a group, we then work on more detailed things and help them to learn about different positions and how to be part of a team. It is really is excellent to see them grow in confidence and then start representing the School in fixtures.”

Mr Raeburn-Garbett added:  “We both played a lot of school football when we were younger and we have taken things from those experiences and tried to make it a really positive environment and experience for all of the students who are involved.

“Yes, we have teams that play competitively, but we also want others to feel part of the football offering at the School, as it really is a sport for all.

“We know that in recent years the School has produced some players who have gone on to play professionally, so if we can help facilitate that journey that is great, but seeing everyone enjoying football and representing the School gives us just as much satisfaction.”

Scotland’s recent qualifications for the Euros mean that men's football in Scotland is as prevalent as ever and the number of boys that train at ESMS shows that. And ever since Scotland’s women qualified for the World Cup in 2019 there has been a real boom in girls' football in this country, which is still on an upward curve, with youngsters keen to be the next Erin Cuthbert and the like.

“In terms of the girls in the Junior School, we have teams in leagues at P4/5 and P6/7 levels and they are playing fixtures regularly,” Mr Allison said.

“There are some very good players in those squads and seeing them grow as units as been exciting. Girls are coming to football much earlier than they ever used to, and it is so good to see, because some of the natural ability we have seen in recent times is very encouraging.”

On Wednesday, June 19 an under-11 girls team were set to be representing ESMS at a ISFA National Finals Day at St George’s Park in England, having won a regional qualifier and that shows just how far things have come in terms of football at ESMS.

Mr Raeburn-Garbett said:  “Mr Allison and myself hope that we have put the building blocks in place for football at ESMS to continue growing into the next School year and beyond.

“It is such a great sport and youngsters learn so much from being part of something like this, so we will keep working hard to help as many children as possible achieve what they can in football and, most importantly, enjoy it and play with smiles on their faces.”

To keep up to date with how football is going at the Junior School, follow @esms_junior_school_football on Instagram.

By Gary Heatly

Stay up to date with school news by signing up to our E-Newsletter    Sign Up