Ark Staff take on Jason Roberts Foundation legends in charity football match

Ark Academy have hosted a charity football match with a twist to raise money for an educational PE trip to Grenada.  The Ark teachers lined up against a team of ex-Pros playing for the Jason Roberts Foundation.

The Jason Roberts Foundation have forged close links with Ark Academy in the past year, providing expert SEN (Special Educational Needs) sports coaching for children at the school.

In October, two Ark teachers – Miss Cullen and Mr Edmondson – will be travelling to Grenada in the Caribbean. The dual purpose of the trip is to deliver teacher training for including children with SEN in physical education lessons, and to increase participation in physical activity across the islands, where 60% of the adult population are overweight or obese and 13% suffer from diabetes.

Match Report by Mr Edmondson

In the opening period of the game, Ark were on the front foot, cheered on by a huge crowd of students. JRF’s captain, Otis Roberts (20 international caps for Grenada) was seen visibly frustrated at the attacks Ark were forging, yelling at his players to “get the game won before we starting doing the fancy stuff”.

Unfortunately for the Ark Staff, a poor defensive clearance from the school’s goalkeeper led to a one-on-one which resulted in the opening goal.

Not to be deterred, Ark hit back with Miss Cullen making a strong tackle at left back. The ball was released to Mr Gardiner, who flicked the ball on to Mr O’Carroll. Bringing the ball under control and showing the touch that resulted in his one cap for England Schoolboys, the Head of Boys’ PE was hauled down by JRF centre back Cae Menai Davis. Miss Gallagher, capped for Northern Ireland and showing all her experience from the Women’s Champions League, stepped up to take the penalty and powered the ball past JRF goalkeeper Sean Griffiths (previously at Watford).

Although Mr Foster and Mr Edmondson had marshalled the defence for Ark, the Legends were able to capitalise on slip-ups that the amateurs may normally have gotten away with. As Mr Edmondson rung the changes in the name of charity, the Staff succumbed to a 6-1 defeat that remained competitive and enjoyable for all involved.

Man of the Match: Kelly Gallagher, Ark Staff

JRF's Captain Otis Roberts was pleased to get the win saying: ‘Playing football in the sunshine with the backdrop of Wembley was great and it’s good to get some of the foundation guys together and glad that some of the ex-pros gave up some of their time to support the school and the charity.

We’ve got some of our ambassadors to the foundation and the coaches here, so that made it extra special. It was a good game, it was close in the first half but I think we ran out worthy winners in the end.’

Preparation for the Grenada trip is in full swing, he explained: 'We’re just speaking to the Ministry over there about which schools we’re going to buddy up with for the trip at the end of the month with the two Ark teachers and that’s the reason why we’re here today to support them coming over to Grenada and having a working relationship with the Grenadian government.'

We asked the teams why it's so important for kids to do sport....

Otis believes: 'You are learning all the time, all skill factors. When you fail it’s life lessons in there as well, so it’s very important.'

Derek Payne, ex-Watford and Peterborough Utd player, agreed: ‘We’ve been saying about the youngsters taking part, it’s good that there is a big crowd here as well and it’s good for your social skills – the lads will tell you, I wasn’t very good on the social side, but football makes you a better person and makes you disciplined so I think it helps everyone like that, especially youngsters.’

He also credits the foundation with a sense of community: ‘I think it’s great, it gets people involved and that’s the thing, getting people that may be a bit shy to come out of their shell – I used to be quiet!’

Coach Zane, who now plays semi-pro for Hadley FC in Potters Bar, sees firsthand how beneficial sport can be for kids: ‘I coach the under 6s which for me are very good for their ages, there's a lot of good talent so hopefully when they do grow up they can get into a decent team and compete at a professional level.'

It’s also good socially, you meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends and it’s just the best thing in life, having friends and being happy.’

When asked whats next for the Jason Roberts Foundation, fellow coach Rene replied: ‘It just needs to keep going because in the summer holidays we get over 100 kids coming down and when they’re not there – what are these 100 kids doing?. You learn so much, there is stress relief in it, learning about winning and failing, the social aspect fitness, so there is a lot of positives with it.

‘We’ve gotten involved with a lot more other sports now like golf, basketball has just started up, so doing different sports is brilliant because obviously not every kid enjoys football.’

Thanks to our match sponsors, The Crock of Gold, all of the Ark Staff and JRF legends for participating and the students and staff cheering them on - we raised over £300! See you all at the next event!