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Team spirit.

Hawarden High School U-14s. Below (fromleft) captain Charlie Owen and Zac Bell, scorer of the winning goal, receive their trophies from Robert Earnshaw; centre half Gareth Ephraim wins the ball from Barry player Luke Jones; Rhys Darlington challenges Barry keeper Nathan Ball and Hawarden defender Alec Thomas slides in to disposess Barry's Dan JordanA TALENTED squad of schoolboy footballers were praised by Wales star Robert Earnshaw when they were crowned national champions after winning the battle of North v South.

Hawarden High School's U-14 boys were on top of their game as they beat Barry Comprehensive School 2-0 to win theWelsh Schools Football Associations HSBC Championships.

In a close game in which Barry had a goal disallowed, theNorth Wales school had the edge and deserved their victory. The match was a fitting finale to a competition that has been high on quality since it began last September, with both teams putting in impressive perfomances it hat showed why they had conquered opposition from all over the ccountry.

As the champions were presented with the trophy and medals, they were praised by Wales and Cardiff City striker, who said he would have been proud to have been leading the line for a team that played so well together.

He said: ``It was a tough match, and very encouraging to see such high quality football being played. Both teams battled hard, with Hawarden scoring two good goals -both of which I would've been happy to have scored myself.

``This competition has run for many years,and has been a fantastic asset to the development of grass-roots football in Wales. It gives school children the opportunity to develop their skills by participating on a regular basis, which is vital for nurturing the bright stars of future Welsh football.''

Peter Ledsham,PE teacher at Hawarden High School, said,``I'm very happy with the team's performance and everyone at the school is proud of winning the title. The conditions were perfect and both teams battled hard. We haven't been beaten in a long while,and without a doubt Barry were the toughest opponents we've come up against so far.

``We managed to turn the game our way in the second half, concentrating on the basic things and chasing hard,and eventually the goals came from Ashley Burn and Zac Bell.We've a strong football heritage at Hawarden -we've won the Welsh Championships 3 times,and both Gary Speed and Michael Owen are former students.''

The tournament,formally known as the WSFA Inter-Schools Championships, is organised by the Welsh Schools Football Association and sponsored by HSBC Bank.

Funding has also been secured for the championship by Sportsmatch, the government's business sponsorship initiative scheme for sport, which will benefit the tournament to the tune of pounds 15,000.Bangor Gym Club had a successful day at the recent Welsh School Tumble and Vault Finals.

Cameron Davies, Meirion Gadd and Thomas Owen won the Under 11 team bronze, withGino Rowlands,Joseph Peake and Alex Cuthbertson taking the senior team gold. Josie McEwan went through to represent Wales in the British Schools Tumbling finals in Stoke and was placed fifth in Britain overallBrynhyfryd School's U-19 boys got the chance to meet Wales legend Ian Rush when they played in their age group final of the Welsh Schools Football Association's HSBC Championships. The boys from the Ruthin school were presented with their runners-up medals by the former Liverpool striker and current U17's team coach when they lost to Swansea's Gorseinon College 4-0
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:582
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