[C]umberland FA welcomed 54 local clubs with a combined total of 272 teams to Frenchfields, Penrith over the weekend of 2 and 3 June for the largest free football festival in the North West; the Cumberland FA Charter Standard Festival.
Almost 3,000 youngsters took part over the two days, with Under-7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 teams – along with Under-8, 10, 12 and 14 girls’ teams – playing festival football on the 20 pitches provided. With no scores recorded, teams were able to enjoy the end-of-season games in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Taking place for the 13th year, the Festival was delivered by Cumberland FA to thank clubs for their commitment and hard work over the course of the season, as the tireless hours put in by coaches, parents and club volunteers cannot be underestimated.
Ben Snowdon, Chief Executive Officer at Cumberland FA, said: “Since it began in 2006, our Charter Standard Festival has grown in size year on year, and 2018 saw our largest entry of teams.
“The support from local referees was also fantastic, with 49 officials attending on Saturday and 31 on Sunday. With newly qualified referees joining experienced officials on the pitches, it was a fantastic environment for newer officials to learn and gain experience in a relaxed atmosphere. We were delighted to welcome English Football League referee Anthony Backhouse to the Festival, who supported officials on the day and refereed matches. Ant is a fantastic role model for Cumberland referees.
“Finally, I’d like to thank a number of partners and supporters for helping us deliver this year’s Festival. Without this support, the Festival wouldn’t have been possible, so I’d like to thank Eden District Council, Kitlocker, Penrith Lions, Ted Sharkey, Ben France, Nike, the volunteers from McDonald’s and the local referees and volunteers.”
On Saturday (2 June), PAN disability players also took to the pitches, with many enjoying their first taste of festival football and soaking up the atmosphere at Frenchfields.
Craig Bristoe of Whitehaven AFC said: “A big thank you to Ray Sempill (Football Development Officer) and the Cumberland FA for a well organised day for our PAN disability team at the Charter Standard Festival. Players and parents all went home with smiles on their faces after a great day of football. We can’t wait for next year.”
This year, money raised from the raffle will go towards relaunching The FA’s Respect programme in Cumberland. The Respect scheme helps to ensure that football is played in a safe, fun and inclusive environment where everybody can play their part. This fund, which stands at £1,257.67, will help clubs buy new Respect equipment, help increase the awareness of the programme and support young, newly-qualified referees in managing the match day environment.