Published: Friday 16th July 2021

The first community football tournament organised by Runcorn Local Policing Unit for 40 years has been hailed an ‘overwhelming success’.

The free KOPS ‘n’ Kids event at Runcorn Linnets’ pitches in Stockham Lane, Murdishaw, saw 1,293 children having football fun and getting to know local police officers and PCSOs over two consecutive weekends.

Teams from Runcorn, Widnes, Ellesmere Port, Warrington and Liverpool took part in a total of 306 small-sided games.

There were boys, girls and mixed teams showcasing their football skills, with competitions held for every age group from under sevens up to and including under 14s.

A total of 508 goals were scored during the tournament, and more than 20 of the players were scouted by professional clubs such as Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Manchester City, Burnley and Blackburn Rovers.

Coaches from the Liverpool FC Foundation and Everton in the Community delivered training sessions to children at the tournament.

Former professional football player and manager Brian Horton and British auto racing driver and Celebrity Gogglebox star Paul O’Neill were among those who attended to support the event and hand out trophies to the winning teams.

Others were the High Sheriff of Cheshire Robert Mee and Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer.

Chief Inspector Leeroy Moss, of Runcorn Local Policing Unit (LPU), said:

“The tournament was an overwhelming success.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has severely limited the amount of football that children have been able to play in recent times.

“It was great seeing them having so much fun emulating their heroes competing at this year’s Euros.

“Football fever gripped the nation this summer as a result of the Euros, and the first community football tournament organised by Runcorn LPU for four decades certainly added to the increased passion for the sport locally.

“We have had a lot of great feedback on the event from the teams, players and parents involved and can’t thank the team at Runcorn Linnets Junior Football Club enough for agreeing to host the event for free.

“The same goes for the Steve Morgan Foundation for paying all the other costs involved with hosting a football tournament, such as the referee fees, trophies for the winning teams and the medals that each participating player received, and for Halton Speak Out for securing the funding on our behalf.

“I would also like to thank everyone who attended to support the event and hand out trophies, and the coaches at Liverpool FC Foundation and Everton in the Community for coming along to give professional training to any children who wanted to take part, as well as fellow partners Onward Homes and Merseyflow for the support that they gave us for the tournament.

“In addition, I would like to thank professional freestyler Mr Silky Skills for entertaining everyone at the tournament with his unbelievable ability with a football and for arranging for some of his famous friends to send us good luck video messages regarding the event, including former England international football star John Barnes and former Commonwealth Games 800 metres champion Diane Modahl.

“We posted the videos on our Runcorn Police Facebook account over the course of the tournament.”

Taking place on the Saturdays and Sundays of 3, 4, 10 and 11 July, the tournament was the first KOPS ‘n’ Kids event held this year, due to restrictions imposed by the Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Inspector Moss added: 

“KOPS ‘n’ Kids is a free sport-based activity scheme that our officers and PCSOs run with support from partner agencies to help children stay active and healthy and have fun.

“It also strengthens relationships and builds trust between young people and the police.

“The tournament at Runcorn Linnets’ pitches in Murdishaw is one of many successful KOPS ‘n’ Kids events that have been held in Runcorn in recent years, and the scheme is now being rolled out to other areas of Cheshire.”

Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer said: 

“I had the pleasure of joining Runcorn LPU for their KOPS ‘n’ Kids football tournament.

“Building a positive relationship between local policing and communities is so important. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who made the event a success and well done to all the teams that took part.”