HUNDREDS of children came together for a football match in memory of a trainee coach who died in 2016.

Pupils from across eight schools in West Sussex joined the competition on Friday, April 29, which was organised by and held at the University of Chichester where Joe Sharpe studied before his death.

The tournament involved nearly 200 players aged between 11 and 12 years, trained by undergraduates on the football coaching and performance course.

Organiser Dr Danny Potter, a senior lecturer in sports development and management at the University, said: “This is the first sports tournament many students will have attended since 2019.

The Argus: Pupils from across West Sussex attended the event at the University of ChichesterPupils from across West Sussex attended the event at the University of Chichester

“It proved an important developmental step not only for their physical and tactical footballing knowledge but also their social and psychological progression.”

According to a recent report by Ofsted, the communication and language skills of children in the United Kingdom are suffering due to disruption caused by the pandemic.

Callum, 11, from St Philip Howard in Barnham, said: “For the last two years I have had to learn from home, so it is amazing to come and meet new people.”

At the end of the session, the winning school was presented with the Sharpie Shield, in memory of former university student, Joe, who died of a short-illness aged 20.

The Argus: Joe SharpeJoe Sharpe

Meanwhile, teachers were pleased to see a large number of girls involved in the event.

PE teacher Emily Buckingham, from The Regis School in Bognor, said: “We’ve also seen a huge increase in girls playing the game, and we’ve brought nearly as many girls teams here as boys.

“After the last two years, our children are more eager than ever to get out of the classroom.”