Pupils from a Barton school have enjoyed an action-packed day out at the launch of the FA People's Cup at St George's Park in Tatenhill.

The Football Association launched its free open five-a-side competition that people from all walks of life can apply for, right through from an under 14 girls' side to veterans, aged 35-plus.

St George's Park is to host the finals of this season's FA People's Cup for the first time in the competition's history in April.

The competition is also open to people with disabilities, and the FA is working with the BBC Get Inspired sports project to deliver the competition.

Year nine boys from John Taylor school at the launch of the FA People's Cup
Year nine boys from John Taylor school at the launch of the FA People's Cup

It all kicked off at the national football centre, the home of England superstars Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford - who will be heading there in March for an England training camp ahead of the World Cup in Russia later this year.

The multi-million pound venue - opened in September 2012 and the headquarters of the England teams - played host to teams encompassing all different categories and coaches delivered sessions worthy of professional training programmes.

These included sessions on the one-step penalty, retaining possession and mastering the art of the along-the-ground pass.

Year nine students from John Taylor high school were put through their paces and taught how to master these drills, with John Taylor teacher Chris Vardy watching on as FA coaches passed on their expertise to the youngsters.

It certainly went down well, with boys and girls from the school taking part - with some of the more avid football players at the school mixed in with those who were less likely to be up for a kick-about at break time.

Sporting a Derby County ladies' tracksuit top, pupil Angelina Goodwin, 13, said: "I play for Derby County's under 15's and I think St George's Park is a great place to train; there's a lot of good coaches here and the equipment is really good."

Fellow avid footballer Katie Moran, 14, added: "I really like football. I play for a team myself and it's really good to play in the facility; we've got all of the training equipment and all of the qualified coaches.

"It's different here from when you're training with your other coaches, because you get an insight into the professional teams and what they get."

The students were treated to a day jam-packed with different footballing activities, with teams rotating round between the different drills.

While the John Taylor girls were mastering the art of the five-a-side game, the boys were trying their hand at the crossbar challenge.

Pupil Cam Jones, 14, said of the launch: "I just think it's a great way to get people involved and it's a great way to help people to learn about football.

"It's different to see other people's ways, obviously they might play a bit more football than us as a team."

While Kuram Rashid, who plays for Barton Rovers and Outwoods, and is also 14, added: "They're [the coaches] making us work really hard and it's really difficult to do all the challenges needed."

Mr Vardy, a PE teacher at the school who accompanied the students to St George's Park, said he was pleased to be able to get those who didn't play as much football out on onto the pitch.

"For us, it gives us a chance to see the kids that don't normally play much competitive football," he said.

"So giving those kids the opportunity to come and experience this and come down to the centre; it inspires those kids who don't do as much football in school or out of school.

"We've got a mixture [of ability], we've got some of our football team here and then we've got a mixture of kids who don't play as much and it's just about giving them that opportunity and that chance to come away from the norm for them and experience something like this.

"They were really up for it. We could have brought double the numbers really with the kids that we've got at our school.

"But it's one of those things, you can't bring everybody - but they're absolutely buzzing.

Year nine girls from John Taylor school at the launch of the FA People's Cup
Year nine girls from John Taylor school at the launch of the FA People's Cup

"They've got smiles on their faces and they really enjoyed the tour round the centre."

Les Howie, head of grassroots football for The FA, echoed those sentiments and said he wanted to use the People's Cup as an opportunity to grow the game and bring communities together.

Last year, The FA had more than 45,000 people taking part and this year they are aiming for an extra 10,000.

"I think it's really important the FA really ensures that football is for all," Mr Howie said.

"It's got to be an inclusive sport.

"It's a sport played and supported by millions and helped by millions.

"And I think it's really important that things like the People's Cup gives opportunities for communities to come together and love the game of football.

"The People's Cup has grown year on year since it first started in partnership with our broadcast partners, the BBC.

"And I think the opportunity to grow the game and publicize what the People's Cup is all about.

"And ultimately as well, as well as getting the people playing the People's Cup as one-offs, we want them to stay involved in the game.

"We want them to stay involved as volunteers and keep playing.

"The doubling of the girls and women's teams, more adults continuing to play the game, more veterans football for example.

"We really do think that football has a bit part to play in our community, and the supporting world of our communities."

Participants a the launch of the FA People's Cup
Participants a the launch of the FA People's Cup

The FA is riding a wave as a result of a summer of success for their grassroots sides.

The World Cup victories by the under-17 and under-20 England sides have re-ignited interest in what the FA does at St George's Park.

Under 17s head coach Steve Cooper brought his under-17's side down to the Pirelli Stadium in November for a friendly with Russia, and praised the Pirelli for being a "fabulous" venue.

And Mr Howie hopes the success of the youth teams can be a catalyst for more participation in football, not only in the People's Cup, but beyond.

Burton and Pirelli Stadium gets taste of what might be to come at Euros from England under-17s after win over Russia

"It's been a fantastic year for the success of our teams, but that's been 20 years in the making," he added.

"The work that’s gone on in grassroots, that’s gone on at professional clubs, the setting up of academies and what goes on in the world of coaching.

"So it's great to see that success and we hope that success is sustained and we hope it’s not just a golden summer but it becomes a golden generation."

Entries are still being accepted for the People's Cup if you think your side is up for a challenge, and this can be done through both theFA.com and the BBC Get Inspired page.

What is the FA People's Cup?

  • The FA People’s Cup is a small-sided competition.
  • It is completely free to enter and welcomes male, female and disability players across 18 categories – ranging from U14s through to veterans (over-35s).
  • Enter The FA People's Cup by visiting thefa.com/competitions/the-fa-peoples-cup/ or contacting FAPeoplesCup@TheFA.com.

When will it take place?

  • The competition will take place over three rounds - round one (23-25 February), the regional semi-finals (24-25 March) and the grand finals weekend (April 28-29).
  • Highlights of the FA People's Cup finals will be available to watch online on the BBC Get Inspired page.
  • The next FA People's Cup session in Burton on Trent is on Sunday February 25 at St George's Park.