Pictured at the launch of the SPAT FAI Primary School 5s Programme is Republic of Ireland’s Louise Quinn and former Republic of Ireland footballer David Meyler with Erin McLoughlin, age 12, Ladyswell National School, Dublin, left, and Lily Mead, age 12, Ladyswell National School, Dublin.

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The 2022 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme was launched by Republic of Ireland women’s footballer Louise Quinn and former Republic of Ireland footballer David Meyler. The pair were on hand at the FAI’s headquarters in Sport Ireland Campus, to provide a coaching masterclass to a number of students who will be participating in what is Ireland’s largest grassroots football programme.
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme is open to boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class, and puts emphasis on fun and inclusivity.

Register for the SPAR5s by March 4th at www.fai.ie/SPARPrimarySchool5s.

To ensure the safety of students and teachers, the 2022 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme has been designed to run within schools, with teachers being provided with all the necessary support to host their very own 5-a-side tournament including video training tips, score sheets and more.In addition to being supplied with a starter pack, all schools registered on or before the 23rd of February will be automatically entered into a draw to win prizes for the school, while all schools that register their players and competition format on or before the 4th of March will be entered into a draw to play at the home of Irish Football, the Aviva Stadium in May.

The emphasis of the SPAR 5s is firmly placed on fun, inclusivity and fostering a passion for physical activity. Even more children can take part this year as teachers will no longer have to select a team of just 8 players to represent their school. In addition, football themed worksheets, building on the success of last year’s SPAR FAI School Zone, will be included in the teachers’ pack to encourage all children to get involved in fun lessons underpinned by the theme of football.

SPAR have been involved with the School 5s programme since 2015 and to date more than 300,000 children have participated in the competition. In 2021, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in lieu of on-field competition, SPAR and the FAI pivoted to deliver innovative football themed lesson plans to schools where 102,860 participants in 2,205 classes learned core subjects including maths, history, geography and more through football.

Speaking about the programme Colin Donnelly, SPAR Sales Director said “We are extremely proud to be involved with the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme since 2015. Since then, the programme has seen participation figures grow significantly to become the largest grassroots football programme competition in the country. The programme encourages children to get involved in sport and develop a love for football and physical activity and perfectly complements our SPAR Better Choices campaign. Our SPAR retailers in over 400 locally based stores spread across the country very much look forward to working with schools to further grow the programme in 2022.”

As Ireland’s largest grassroots football programme, the FAI is delighted with the ongoing success of the programme with FAI Chief Executive Jonathan Hill commenting, “The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme is growing year on year and even though we have had to adapt the Programme due to Covid-19, 2021 saw a record 1,696 schools and more than 100,000 children take part. It is fantastic to have the Finals Day back at Aviva Stadium this summer, while we will see the introduction of an in-house school interleague campaign as well as a Football For All element with special schools involved for the first time.

“I would like to thank SPAR for their continued support with this Programme, which has shown tremendous results to date with children in every county taking part and female participation up 45%. We look forward to helping this Programme grow and seeing more boys and girls enjoy football all around the country.”