Football’s coming home – to Runcorn

As Euro 2020 fever grips the nation a popular community football tournament organised by the police has returned to Runcorn after a gap of 40 years.

The free event – known as KOPS n’ Kids – is taking place over two weekends on Runcorn Linnets’ pitches in Stockham Lane, Murdishaw, finishing this Sunday just hours before England play Italy at Wembley in the Euro 2020 final.

The event has been funded by the Steve Morgan Foundation and involves 1,200 young footballers from more than 90 teams from across Runcorn, Liverpool, Cheshire, Warrington and Manchester.

The foundation has provided a total of £9,984 in funding, which will cover the cost of officials, medals, trophies, equipment and an online results system.

The first half of KOPS ‘n’ Kids took place on July 3-4 and was a huge success according to one of the organisers.

PC Ian Hampson said: “Given everything that has happened with England in the Euros we couldn’t have picked a better time to be holding a football tournament.

“It was great to see so many smiles on faces. Every kid enjoyed themselves. There were a lot of emotions because they’ve not been able to play football for the last 16 months.

“From our point of view it’s all about building relationships with young people and we’ve had so much positive feedback.

“The kids see us as being more approachable and engage with us. Events like KOPS n’ Kids help to break down barriers.

“We couldn’t have done something of this scale without the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation. We’re very grateful to them.”

Explaining how the reintroduction of KOPS ‘n’ Kids came about PC Hampson said: “I’m 52 now and when I was growing up in Runcorn I did KOPs ‘n’ Kids. I remember it and you knew who your local bobby was.

“When I returned to the area a lot of people said to me ‘there’s nothing for the kids to do’ and ‘it would be great if KOPs ‘n’ Kids returned’.

“We started a summer scheme in 2019 of various activities and 2,500 people attended. Then we had Covid in 2020 so we had to restrict numbers to around 400.

“We have a very good relationship with Runcorn Linnets so we approached them about doing a football tournament and they jumped at it.”

KOPs ‘n’ Kids is aimed at boys, girls and mixed teams aged from under 7’s to under 14’s.

The winners from the first weekend were: U14’s Champions’ League – Atherton Colts from Manchester;  Europa League – Belle Vale from Liverpool; U13’s Champions’ League  – Parklands from Widnes; Europa League – Abraham Moss from Manchester.

PC Hampson added: “I spoke to several scouts from some big teams in the North West and around 15 children have been asked by such teams as Everton, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd to attend their training facilities and academies.”

Several high profile people and politicians have attended the tournament including former Manchester City manager Brian Horton.

The second half of KOPs ‘n’ Kids takes place over the weekend of July 10-11.

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