The FAI Primary School 5s (Meath) has been the biggest 5 -a-side football tournament in Ireland for many years . After the nationwide competition was cancelled for the past 3 years due to Covid-19 , this year’s amazing total of 300 teams (2,400 boys and girls) has broken all previous records, not just in Meath, but across the entire country . The FAI Schools Meath 5 -a-side is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year .There is great excitement in 88 primary schools in Meath as the MDL Grounds Navan hosts the event for both boys and girls from 27th Feb to 10th March 2023 with the County finals down for decision on 22nd March at the same venue. Organisers Richard Smith ( FAI Development Officer for Meath) , Paul Holland (FAI Schools Meath Co-ordinator) and Diane Fay (National Co-ordinator from Ballivor) are delighted with the huge increase in numbers of boys and girls participating in Meath this year.
Many primary school pupils in Meath would love to follow in the footsteps of Bettystown youngster, Evan Ferguson (Brighton and Ireland), who lined out for his primary school, Whitecross NS (Julianstown) in the Meath schools 5 -a- side just a short while ago . Evan has already taken The English Premier League by storm with Brighton and hopefully will feature for Ireland’s senior team against France in the opening game of the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers on the 27th March . Evan’s dad, Barry Ferguson, was actually the FAI’s Development Officer for Meath and co-ordinated this same tournament in Navan for five years all set to enjoy the experience of representing their schools in the hugely popular qualifiers at the MDL Grounds Navan. It will take 10 days to complete the Meath qualifiers . Although the tournament is competitive, the emphasis of the FAI Primary School 5s is placed on fun, inclusivity and fostering a passion for physical activity. All -Ireland titles have been won by Meath schools over the years, including St. Michael’s Trim 1996 and again in 2013, Rathbeggan 2005, Athboy in 2012, Dunboyne SNS and Mount Hanover in 2016 . The winning teams from all six sections in Meath advance to the North Leinster Finals at the MDL ,proceeding to the Leinster finals again in the MDL in May and the National Finals at the fabulous Aviva Stadium, Dublin on 31st May 2023
There are six competitive sections to cater for all school sizes (small, medium and large schools) with separate competitions for boys and girls. Each section is based on the school’s numbers of boys/girls on the roll from 4 th to 6 th class on 30 th September 2022. Players must be born on or after 1st Jan 2010. An extra dimension of Football for All in special schools was added in 2022. Transition year students from Boyne Community School Trim, Coláiste na Mí Navan and Ashbourne Community School are this year provided outstanding assistance with refereeing and organising.