Bedfordshire FA’s Cedarsfield, under the management of Edwin Stein, stormed their way through the FA People’s Cup to be crowned the best team in the country.
As well as being named the best amateur youth disability team in the country, the team will now be heading to Wembley on the 27th May to collect their trophy. Champions Cedarsfield were rewarded with free FA Cup Final tickets, whilst captain Jake Bridgestock will grace the pitch at half-time to lift the cup in front of 90,000 fans.
Over 6000 teams had entered the FA People’s Cup back in January 2017, participating across 16 categories. Three Bedfordshire Disability Football teams had impressively made it to the national finals at PlayFootball Birmingham Indoor Arena. Edwin Stein was brought in to manage the teams, providing a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game. Whilst all Bedfordshire teams could be proud of their efforts, the shining light of this year’s competition was without a doubt the Youth Disability Champions Cedarsfield.
“The Bedfordshire FA approached my charity the I.L.Stein Foundation to help with the Disability Football teams. We gave them some funding, some kits for the local community, they they invited my brother Brian and I down to watch the Ability Counts leagues on Fridays and it was such an inspiration.
I just knew it was the thing to do, to get working with these guys who are so unbelievably enthusiastic, so grateful for everything they have received. They won us over and we decided to support them in the FA People’s Cup.”
Cedarsfield went into the finals as the standout favourites. They wasted no time in settling in and were responding well to Edwin’s guidance. The team impressed everyone with their good sportsmanship, teamwork and talent. The momentum built as the day went on, culminating in a 5-1 win in the final against Bromley Green Valiants.
“If you work hard, it’s great to be a winner; it’s a great kick on for them.”
Speaking to the BBC, Edwin added:
“They came here last year and lost in the final so this was redemption. Since then we’ve changed the setup slightly and I’ve seen a change in their approach which was pivotal to winning.
For them to overcome that barrier, get into this competition and win on this journey, tells you something about them and the support network they have. The Bedfordshire FA deserve a lot of credit in that and it will be a massive moment for this group of kids when they go on the pitch at Wembley during the FA Cup Final.”
Edwin, who made over 500 appearances for Barnet as a player, and whose brothers Brian and Michael Stein also played professionally, said he advised the team to enjoy the journey and the ups and downs:
“It’s been a pleasure for our charity to be involved in this. I’ll be honest, I prefer coaching to playing. I think the new generation needs guidance on how to approach the game. I’ll be continuing to offer my services to the Bedfordshire FA because coaching has given me a new lease of life.”
Josh Spavins (Bedfordshire FA’s Disability Football lead) commented:
“Edwin has played a huge part in the success at the FA People’s Cup. The initial funding enabled us to provide transport to the Regionals and Finals this year, as well as the best looking kit around. The team could focus solely on enjoying themselves and winning football matches. Edwin’s personality and passion elevated this team to another level. Ultimately that made a crucial difference.
Cedarsfield demonstrated tremendous technical abilities, whilst their mental strength was a mark of champions. Looking forward now, we have a day out at Wembley to enjoy. What a way to celebrate with such a fantastic group of people.”