THE centre of Wokingham was transformed into a festival of football on Saturday and Sunday, as Ashridge Park FC held its 19th annual tournament in the heart of the town at St. Crispin’s School.
The tournament hosted competitions at every age group from Under 7 to Under 18 during the two day event.
More than 3,500 players and supporters came through the gates, and 170 teams from across the South East were represented. Teams that qualified from the group stages of each competition progressed to a knockout round, with impressive trophies handed out to the winners in each age group, plus participation medals for all Under 7 and Under 8 players.
This year, an online results service was rolled-out, delivering real-time competition data direct to spectators’ smartphones on the sidelines. The bespoke system, which removed the need for complicated mental arithmetic, was developed in-house by Dave Furby, a parent and club committee member.
Club chair Ady Dolan puts the success of the event down to the efforts of volunteers and the community ethos at Ashridge Park FC.
“At a time when some clubs have walked away from hosting tournaments, our annual event continues to go from strength to strength,” said Ady.
“This is solely down to the efforts of volunteers who give up their time to support us in delivering a great experience for the children who come along to take part. From the slick operation of the car park to flipping burgers and making teas, every age group within the club supplies a team of volunteers.
“At the helm is Neil Patterson, our tournament organiser, who plans and oversees the weekend with military precision.
“The feedback from visiting teams this year has been fantastic. Key areas for a successful tournament are always punctuality and the quality of your referees, and I’m pleased that we have excelled in both of these areas.
The tournament helps us financially by subsiding our club funds, which we pass on to members by keeping our membership fees as the lowest in the area. But it’s about a lot more than that.
“It brings the entire club together, with all age groups mixing and everybody mucking in. This helps us to reinforce our ethos as a community club, and hopefully it sends a really positive message to the children when they see what can be achieved when we all pull together.”