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A MINI football tournament, hosted by professional academy coaches, saw local primary schools battle it out for honours on the pitch.

Four teams of budding young soccer stars kicked off a new term at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science in a competition organised in association with the Martin Gray Football Academy.

The Year 5 and 6 teams from West Park Academy, Cockerton Primary, Mount Pleasant and Whinfield Primary, took to the playing fields in a close fought contest arranged by DSMS PE teacher Mike Hillary.

“Many of the players here from local schools will be DSMS students next September and perhaps football stars of the future,” said Mr Hillary.

“Having a tournament where we can invite them into our school and give them a taste of our fantastic sporting facilities, as well as promote our association with the Martin Gray Football Academy, is a wonderful opportunity for us and for them.”

The Martin Gray Football Academy, which has been working with DSMS pupils since January, is a pioneering initiative to engage young people in their studies through football.

On top of their normal 25 hours of school work, students get an additional two hours of education support followed by coaching from Martin, a former Sunderland AFC footballer and the new manager of Darlington Football Club, and his team.

Martin Gray Football Academy coach Ryan Gillham, 20, who helped to officiate the tournament said: “It’s great to be able to come into schools and see the incredible talent on offer.

“DSMS’s association with The Martin Gray Academy enables the students here, both boys and girls, to have the chance to train with professional players and be supported in their education giving them an extra edge to perhaps pursuing a career in sport.

“Every single player has given their all and the games have been played in great spirit. I think we may have seen some future Darlington FC players here today.”

Taking overall honours Whinfield Primary School team were presented with the winners’ cup.

West Park Academy and Mount Pleasant Primary School finished in joint second with Cockerton Primary School in fourth place.