Your heart’s pumping, adrenaline is running high, the pep talk from the changing room is still ringing in your ears as you focus on the game ahead of you. You emerge blinking from the players’ tunnel to the sound of the roaring crowds.
Most football players don’t get to experience this atmosphere until they turn pro, but thanks to the PlayStation® Schools’ Cup hundreds of young people aged 11-15 got to experience it first hand as the grass roots football tournament culminated in a nail-biting festival at Reading FC’s Madjeski Stadium.
Our brand ambassadors have been out on tour with the PlayStation® Schools’ Cup since last September, helping the brand activate its sponsorship of the tournament, which is organised by the English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA). The team were centre stage once again at the three day festival (19-21 May), as five back-to-back games took place each day, before the winners of each category, girls and boys U12, U13, U14 and U15, were announced.
The Festival was the culmination of a nine-month long journey for these young athletes. Friends, family and pupils of participating schools were invited to join in the occasion. Thousands of supporters gathered at the Festival, immersing themselves in the action, cheering on their school, and supporting the budding young stars of the future.
The programme delivered the kind of experience most young athletes can only dream of. Recreating the true atmosphere of a pro match, each team were show through the official Reading FC players’ entrance to the changing room, where they prepared for the game ahead.
Stepping through the players’ tunnel they entered the 25,000 capacity stadium where fans – that had travelled the length of the country to watch them – waited in anticipation. Over 4,700 fans attended across the three days, with 480 players in total.
The re-branded stadium ensured maximum brand impact for PlayStation, while ensuring that the event felt truly special for the players and spectators alike. Our talented pitch-side team, fired our t-Shirt cannons at the crowd and rewarded the loudest cheers with branded caps and foam hands.
In the concourse itself, fans and players had the chance to play the latest PlayStation 4 consoles and games including EA SPORTS FIFA World Cup edition, Lego Hobbit and newly released Octodad.
Our MATCH! magazine cover photo mechanic was also back in action. Proving popular for kids and adults alike it makes them the stars of their very own magazine cover, which can be shared instantly on social media.
The highlight of each day? Guest appearances from football stars Connor Wickham, Jay Rodriguez, Bobby Zamora and Danny Rose who were on hand to answer the questions of Circle Agency’s talented match commentators, Aaron and Adam.
After a tiresome match on the pitch it was time for some more star treatment as every player was welcomed to the players’ lounge for a warming pasta dinner and the chance to play multiple titles on PlayStation 4.
A massive shout-out has to go to the winner of our PlayStation School’s Cup virtual gaming championship. The final of which was held on the Tuesday. Having beaten off tough competition from across the country, they are now the proud owner of a brand new PlayStation 4.
The sun was shining, the fans were cheering and the players had a day that they will never forget. Circle feel very privileged to have worked on the School’s Cup programme, improving the reach of grass roots football and helping to deliver an unforgettable brand experience for thousands of youngsters around the country. Alongside HPS Jardine – who managed all of the media, talent and partnership elements of the campaign – we want to say a huge congratulations to everyone who competed and to PlayStation and the ESFA for creating a truly memorable experience for everyone involved.