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Youngsters grace Portman Road pitch in front of 25,000 fans to end Love Football, Live Football week

PUBLISHED: 11:00 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:00 26 October 2017

Walsham-le-Willows (red & white striped shirts) in action against Brantham Athletic (blue shirts) during the Under-7 4v4 showcase match at Portman Road. Picture: SUFFOLK FA

Walsham-le-Willows (red & white striped shirts) in action against Brantham Athletic (blue shirts) during the Under-7 4v4 showcase match at Portman Road. Picture: SUFFOLK FA

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Sixteen youngsters from four youth football clubs in the county enjoyed a never-to-be-forgotten experience in a fitting finale to the Suffolk FA Love Football, Live Football Week, sponsored by MH Goals, writes Nick Garnham.

Former Ipswich Town Secretary David Rose, left, is interviewed by Suffolk Archives during the Sporting Memories event at Suffolk FA offices in Stowmarket during Love Football, Live Football Week. Picture: SUFFOLK FAFormer Ipswich Town Secretary David Rose, left, is interviewed by Suffolk Archives during the Sporting Memories event at Suffolk FA offices in Stowmarket during Love Football, Live Football Week. Picture: SUFFOLK FA

The players from Brantham Athletic, Coplestonians, Elmswell and Walsham-le-Willows took part in two showcase 4v4 Under-7 matches in front of nearly 25,000 fans during the half-time interval at the Ipswich Town versus Norwich City East Anglian derby on Sunday.

They were cheered on by the Portman Road crowd in what was the culmination to the Love Football, Live Football Week, a nine-day celebration of grassroots football in the county featuring more than 40 events.

Ipswich Town partnered with Suffolk FA for the event and the county’s Chief Executive Richard Neal was also interviewed on the pitch, while before the game members of staff were in the FanZone taking photographs with Instagram boards.

Besides the showcase matches at Portman Road other events included Under-7s Festivals and SSE Wildcats sessions for girls aged 5-11 years old for Youth footballers.

Adult involvement included fixtures in the second round of the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup and the start of the Monday Night Football season sponsored by Haven Power in Ipswich plus a Licensed Coaches Club Continuous Personal Development event.

There were also weekly Walking Football sessions across the county while Suffolk FA, Sporting Memories and Suffolk Archives came together to stage an event at the county’s Stowmarket headquarters to share some of Suffolk’s rich sporting history.

Former Ipswich Town Secretary David Rose was among those who attended and brought along memorabilia from his time at the club.

Boot banks have also been at five locations – in Haverhill, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Stowmarket and Walsham-le-Willows – across the county collecting old football boots for the Boots2Africa charity.

Suffolk FA Youth & Mini Soccer Football Development Officer Jodie Allard, who oversaw the programme of events, said: “The return of Love Football, Live Football week has been another big success for Suffolk FA.

“It’s been fantastic to see all of the great work that our team and partners are delivering across Suffolk to provide people with the best possible football experience.

“Thank you to everyone who got involved with the campaign, by attending our projects, running football events or getting in touch on social media.

“The campaign is all about celebrating the fantastic network of volunteers, coaches and players who play the beautiful game within Suffolk, and we have enjoyed engaging with our stakeholders across the nine days.

“Thank you also to our sponsors, MH Goals for supporting the week for the second year. Our events showcased the fantastic variety of football opportunities that we have here in Suffolk, from under-7s to walking football, girls, boys and adults – there is now an opportunity for everyone to play the game.

“Finishing off the week on derby day at Portman Road was a real highlight – Ipswich Town fans cheering our U7 teams during the half-time showcase games was an incredible moment for our youngest players and a great example of what Love Football, Live Football Week is about.”

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