UNDER-12 footballers from Felpham Community College are on the brink of national glory.
The five-a-side team have played their way into the national finals of the ESFA Munich Trophies Under-12 indoor tournament.
They booked their place in the March 2 final at the Derby Soccerdome, next to Derby County’s Pride Park stadium in nail-biting style.
Their coach, college PE teacher Jon Hughes, said: “We had to win the last game by a margin of at least two goals to go through on goal difference.
“The decisive goal in our 3-1 win came in the last minute. It’s a huge achievement to get to the national final when you think about how many teams entered the tournament.
“There must possibly have been up to 1,000 schools taking part at the start,” said Mr Hughes.
The road to the final began for the college in a West Sussex West tournament against their local rivals.
They emerged the winners in an eight-team league which featured sides from the likes of The Regis School, Westergate Community School and Chichester High School for Boys.
This qualified them for the regional final earlier this month at the London Soccerdome. formerly the David Beckham
Soccerdome, in London.
The 18 regional finalists were split into three leagues of six. The winners and runners-up of those five matches played each other in a knockout tournament.
Felpham won their game in a penalty shoot-out to go through to the final of the top three teams.
They each played each other, with their two opponents both coming from London.
“Most of the players we came up against were with the Academies of clubs such as Chelsea and Arsenal,” Mr Hughes said.
“Because of that, I can’t see why the Felpham team can’t go all the way and win the national final.
“People are saying we could manage to win a couple of games and that would be it. But they said that about the regional final and the team proved them wrong.”
The players practise five-a-side football for 90 minutes on Tuesdays after lessons. They also take part in plenty of 11-a-side matches and are in the last eight of the West Sussex schools cup for their age group.
Mr Hughes said: “There is a lot of hard work and team work by the players. They are quite a cohesive bunch.
“They get on really well and support each other. They have a lot of motivation and organisation as a team.”
The squad in the regional final was: Dan Turner, Louie Mockford-Allott, Ollie Humphries, Ollie Hambleton, Jacob Van Driel, Charlie Sixsmith, Olli Martin, Luke Yates and Jack Woodruff.