Leeds United football favourite attends school tournament

Leeds United legend Nigel Martyn with pupils of  Hillcrest Academy at their football tournament.
Leeds United legend Nigel Martyn with pupils of Hillcrest Academy at their football tournament.
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It is the age old punishment for schoolchildren - misbehave and you can’t play football.

Now one Leeds school has drafted in high profile support for this scheme in the shape of former Leeds United and England star Nigel Martyn, who visited Hillcrest Primary Academy in Chapeltown to showcase his goalkeeping skills at their weekly football tournament – which is linked to good behaviour.

At break and lunch times, as well as before and after school, pupils from play football in the ‘Green Area’.

Teaching assistant Will Lawton said the pupils were delighted with their special sporting guest: “One of the positive behaviour initiatives that have begun this year has grown out from the regular playtime football. Since October, Years 5 and 6 have started a football tournament on Friday lunchtimes. In order to play in this tournament, pupils sign up to a contract, written by their team captains.

If they break this contract, whether actually in the Green Area or in classrooms and generally around school, they would ‘suspended’ from football, and miss out on the tournament.”

Martyn heard how all Key Stage 2 pupils at Hillcrest have now signed up to the renamed ‘Hillcrest Promise’, pledging to show Respect, Sportsmanship, Commitment and the ability to be a role model around school in return for the privilege of playing.

Mr Lawton added: “For following the contract, they can be awarded ‘star player’ of the session or game. As well as a regular league table, the tournament focuses largely on a ‘team fair play’ table.”

Martyn, the first £1m goalkeeper in the UK, also took part in a question and answer session with pupils about his career and handed out tournament trophies at a special assembly. Martyn, who lives near Leeds, retired in 2006 and now enjoys playing cricket for the Old Modernians, in the Wetherby League. He received 23 England caps and played for Leeds United from 1996-2003.