The third St Ives Rangers Football Festival received a glowing endorsement from a footballing legend.

The two St Ives Rangers Under 9 girls teams who took part in the Football Festival.The two St Ives Rangers Under 9 girls teams who took part in the Football Festival.

The third St Ives Rangers Football Festival received a glowing endorsement from a footballing legend.

Former England international defender and Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce was a star guest for the first of two days of terrific competition at the One Leisure Outdoor Centre in the town.

“Days like this are what football’s all about - bringing communities together and seeing so many young players enjoying themselves with smiles on their faces,” said Pearce.

“St Ives Rangers play a huge role in the Huntingdonshire area and the passion and dedication from all the coaches was hugely inspiring to see.

Stuart Pearce pictured with the newly-formed Somersham Town Under 9 girls side.Stuart Pearce pictured with the newly-formed Somersham Town Under 9 girls side.

“I was really impressed by all the players I saw too. Their love for the beautiful game really shone through and the future of football in this country is clearly in great hands!”

Pearce was present due to the tournament being selected as one of 10 across the country this summer to stage a McDonald’s Community Football Day.

That involved a number of fun activities for children with 250 free footballs also being given away.

A total of 97 teams took part in the St Ives Rangers Football Festival itself across 13 different categories and four different formats of the game from five-a-side to 11-a-side.

It was the turn of the girls on Saturday before the boys did battle the following day when St Ives Rangers White Sox provided a home triumph at Under 12 level. Needingworth Under 8s were another local team to triumph.

“It was our biggest and best tournament yet,” said Rangers club secretary Wendy Chambers. “It was wonderful to see so many players enjoying their football and we were also blessed with good weather.

“To have Stuart present on Saturday was amazing. He couldn’t have been more accommodating with the children – and the many mums and dads who wanted pictures and autographs!”