Kent Schools trio Jason Hawes (Ravenswood), Ashley Ulph (Maidstone Grammar School for Boys) and Chris Smalling (Chatham Grammar School for Boys) made their international debut when they represented England Schools against Australia at Shrewsbury Town's New Meadow Stadium.
All 21 players in the England squad featured in the game, with Smalling being one of only two to play the entire 90 minutes. The home side won 2-0, with goals from Tom Siddons (Lincolnshire SFA) and Tom Grice (Merseyside SFA).
The England Squad will reconvene during the February half-term when they travel to Villareal in Spain for a three-day warm weather training camp. Prior to that, they return to county duty for Kent Schools on Wednesday (30th January 2008), when they will be representing the County against Sussex Schools at Cobdown Sports Club, kick-off 2.00 pm.
The success of the trio is further evidence of the quality of the schools football set-up in Kent. In the last four seasons, eight players from Kent schools have represented England, with some having subsequently progressed into the full-time professional game. Kent Schools Under 18 team manager John Coles is sure of the reasons for this: "At every level in Kent, there is a really flourishing schools football scene. These three players demonstrate how important it is for youngsters to concentrate on their education - there are plenty of opportunities for them to progress with their football in a proper educational environment rather than through clubs."
The KSFA runs county teams at all age levels and currently has some particularly promising players in its Under 16 squad, who hopefully will progress to the England Schools team in the next couple of seasons.
Photographs courtesy of Maidstone United F.C.