With the England team taking centre stage in Russia, many kids will be dreaming of one day emulating their heroes and representing their country at the World Cup. For us at HPS Jardine, we have been busy sprinkling our own helping of stardust on the finale of this season’s English Schools’ FA PlayStation Schools’ Cup.
15 finals took place at Reading FC’s Madejski Stadium, as part of a three-day festival of school football. Now in its fifth season, PlayStation Schools’ Cup has grown into the biggest and most prestigious collection of boys and girls secondary school football tournaments in England.
Many of the young footballers that took part in the PlayStation Schools’ Cup finals would be hoping to emulate twin brothers Ryan and Steven Sessegnon. The pair were part of Coombe Boys’ School’s victorious ESFA PlayStation Schools’ Cup teams at the Madejski Stadium in 2014 and 2015, and have since gone on to football stardom with Fulham FC and England. In 2017, Ryan won the European Championship with the England U19s while Steven won the World Cup with the U17s. The plaudits for Ryan’s fabulous 2017-18 campaign have continued to roll in, which include collecting this season’s Championship Player of the Year Award.
So, what are the elements that make the PlayStation Schools’ Cup Festival such a great success story? Is it simply down to longevity? Is it increasing the number of schools involved? Is it continuously evolving this grassroots football campaign strategy? In all honesty, it’s all the above.
At the beginning of the season we introduced the campaign strapline ‘heroes of the playground’. This encapsulated the vision and the direction we wanted to head with both our social and overall campaign strategy. The aim was delivering inspiring content that would create an emotional bond between the kids, teachers and schools alike, as this grassroots football campaign continues to build brand advocates for PlayStation.
The Festival is a celebration of schools’ football: showcasing the schools involved and emotions of schoolchildren taking part in a high-profile final. HPS Jardine were initially tasked with driving the gate, with over 5,000 spectators attending over three days.
The next step was expanding the engagement to a wider audience. A week before the Festival, we announced Web TV, in which we would stream every match live across Facebook, YouTube and the PlayStation Schools’ Cup website. Up and down the country, schools were setting up the live stream in their assembly halls for year groups to tune in and watch their classmates represent their school in their final. We even had the legendary voice of ITV football in the commentary box with Clive Tyldesley commentating on two of the live games. This resulted in over 110,000 people tuning in to watch the cream of school footballers in action.
The PlayStation Schools’ Cup Festival is no different to our season roadshows, where Premier League players are recruited to give the Schools’ Cup a further platform to deliver its message to new audiences. We promote these Premier League ambassador appearances through an engaging social media programme. At this year’s Festival we had freestyle footballer John Farnworth competing in a series of footballing challenges against Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle was interviewed by a couple a budding student journalists and Manchester City Women captain Steph Houghton supported an Instagram takeover. The Premier League player appearances also serve as the number one way of attracting hard-hitting media coverage to the event with the likes of Sky SportsWomen, Sky Sports News, The Sun, Daily Mirror and Match Magazine all in attendance.
On top of the traditional media coverage and delivering the perfect finale to the PlayStation Schools’ Cup media partnership, MATCH provided 5,000 free copies of their magazine to the Festival spectators. This issue included a double page spread on the PlayStation Schools’ Cup and a separate page themed around an interview with England star Gary Cahill, which was captured at a roadshow event.
Involving 16 footballing celebrities, 2,000 schools and over 200,000 competing players throughout the season, the curtains closed for the latest PlayStation Schools’ Cup campaign in spectacular style. If you want to see a selection of the best magic moments from this year’s Festival, please visit https://playstationschoolscup.com/videos/
ARTICLE BY LUKE DE BENEDICTIS
Social and Content Executive and still a fan of Jose Mourinho