As a Liverpool fan, I have kept my head down lately when it comes to promoting ‘the beautiful game’ but today my faith was restored when I was treated to a display of pure, unfettered, footballing joy.

I had been invited to the fantastic surroundings of Margate FC  for the latest Year 2 Football Festival which was organised by Thanet Passport.

As I arrived there was already a buzz about the place as twelve school teams, their coaches and families descended upon the Hartsdown Park Stadium. After a brief introduction from event organiser Gary Rees, the teams went to their allocated pitches for the first round of games. The whistle blew and the matches were underway.

There was a really nice atmosphere around this friendly tournament and, although a competitive element was present, all of the players and their supporters seemed to embrace the spirit of the Festival. At the end of each game, regardless of the result, players shook hands and congratulated each other before making their way to the next fixture.

Effort and determination were complemented with laughter and an obvious enjoyment as the teams worked their way through eight games before the Festival came to an end. All players were given medals for participation and each team nominated their own ‘Player Of The Tournament’ who were awarded a second medal.

As the teams departed I could hear the children talking to proud parents about the goal they’d scored or the tackle they’d made. It really was great to witness. For some, this was the first time they had represented their school in any sport and they had obviously relished the opportunity.

Thank you to Gary Rees and his team from Thanet Passport for inviting me along to this Football Festival, and thanks also to staff at Margate FC for being such brilliant hosts.

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