KIDSPRESunday afternoon sees the kick-off of to the new Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League, and chairman Laurence Thorne is looking forward to another successful and competitive season ahead.

He said: “We’re hoping to once more be running a successful and vibrant league, to make it as friendly a league as it can be, to make it as competitive as we are allowed to make it, and to do it all in conjunction with a Jewish ethos – bringing friends together and allowing others to mix and make friends at the same time as playing a sport they love.”

Once again, the League will feature Under 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 age groups, with numbers up on last season. “We have taken four teams over our maximum number, mainly because we don’t want to turn away Jewish footballers,” Thorne says. “It was felt we could accommodate these additional teams, and we currently have 58 teams participating from five clubs.”

This season’s U10’s will become non-competitive, in line with previous seasons where the Under 7, 8 and 9s are, though Thorne says that will benefit the players, saying: “Although non competitive, the games are played in an excellent spirit, with good skill levels, but the results won’t be recorded in line with the FA regulation and their belief that non-competitive football, together with small-sided football, will enhance the playing experience of young players, making them more skilful in the future.”

That means the U11’s will be the only competitive division, with a league title to play for, though this will also change next year to comply with FA plans.

Attracting somewhere in the region of 600 players to the League, Thorne says it’s a number everyone can be proud of. Each age group will participate in two cup competitions – a major and minor tournament – together with the popular Mystery Competition which takes place over a two-week period. Although all but the U11s are considered non-competitive, the FA allows all age groups some competitive competitions, meaning there will be winners and runners-ups, with medals and trophies handed out. There’s also the likelihood of each age group taking part in representative matches.

Played on state-of-the-art all weather 4G pitches across two venues – Barnet FC’s Hive and the Wembley Academy, Thorne also believes the standard of football on offer is comparable to anything you’ll find across the country. “The standard of football played in the JNMJFL is comparable with any other league you chose, some teams are stronger than others, and when a weaker team comes up against a very strong side, we like to bring in the “Rachmanus Rule” – unofficial of course – where we encourage respect to others not as strong as they are, asking the better team to either rotate their players positions, reduce the playing number in their team and it sums up the analogy,

“Last season we had some talented teams across all age groups, we had some very skilful players in their own right and it’s great to watch them grow in both stature and skill level as they move through our age bands.”

Saying the League is different to others because “we have an ethos, football for the Jewish community, at all standard of levels”, they are still welcoming youngsters forward to sign up.

“We cater for all levels of football players, both girls and boys. There will still be teams looking for Jewish players to strengthen their squads and if anyone is looking to find a team for their son or daughter, who wishes to play in a wholly Jewish environment, they should email me at: primarynationalfootball@yahoo.com