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Fifty Years ago today,  on Friday 2nd October in 1970, the first formal organised Junior Football Match in Gibraltar took place.

In the Early 1970s, the educational system in Gibraltar included football as part of the secondary educational curriculum. However the local community had no access to organised youth football leagues and competitions. In essence there was none. The age old problem of facilities was also very prevalent in the 1970s.

By 1970, the frontier had been closed for a year and it was then that six individuals came together with the idea of forming a Gibraltar Junior Football League setup, with structured competitive organised competitions for Gibraltar’s youngsters. The six pioneers were Charlie Cumbo, Pepe Apap, Fred Sash, Peter Martinez, Jimmy McGillvary and Gloria Parody.

Charlie Cumbo recalls how it was extremely difficult for them to get access to a pitch or a facility to play any matches on. Luckily one of the six founders, Fred Sash, was in the Navy, and managed get them to use to the old Naval Grounds (now the site of the Mid Town Development). However in order to do so, the Gibraltar Junior League had to come become part of the Dockyard Social Club.  With this slight concession not seen as an issue on either side, the ‘Gibraltar Naval and Dockyard Social Club Junior Football League’ was formed.

 

 

 

 

Six teams were formed to compete in the first ever league, in 1970, which was played at Under 14 level – ‘Chelsea Boys’ coached by Pepe Apap, ‘Navy Colts’ coached by Fred Sash, ‘Rover United’ coached by Peter Martinez, ‘Prince Of Wales’ Coached by Gloria Parody, ‘Albion Rovers’ coached by Jimmy McGillvary and ‘Gibraltar Casuals’ Coached by Charlie Cumbo.

With the league and cup competitions proving successful an Under 11 structure was set up for the following season. And the leagues continued to grow from strength to strength.

In 1973 the Junior football structure went through some big changes. A new committee was constituted with formal positions. Charlie Polson became the first President With Humberto Martin as Vice President and Gloria Parody became the Secretary. Peter Martinez, Jimmy McGillvary and Jimmy Ellis became committee members.

The newly formed Committee removed the Dockyard Social Club from its name and called itself the Gibraltar Junior Football Leagues.

Many of Gibraltarians, as  young boys and girls, will have been through Gibraltar’s Junior leagues at some stage in there development and as they have grown up. Many of whom will have moved on to other sports or their individual lives and careers will have steered them on to pastures new. However memoirs of playing on the old Nortex surfaces at the Naval Grounds and at the Victoria Stadium and other facilities in Gibraltar will never leave them.

 

 

 

 

One such Gibraltarian is none other than the Gibraltar FA’s General Secretary Ivan Robba who grew up playing football:

"It fills me with great pride to be able to mark this momentous occasion, the fiftieth anniversary of Gibraltar Junior Football. My most memorable years playing football, where I met my best friends of today, were at junior level. I have very fond memories of the amazing work done by the Gibraltar Junior Football volunteers who have all worked hard come rain or shine to make sure that children could play football every weekend.

I congratulate all those who founded the junior football and all those who have been involved over the last 50 years who have left an incredible legacy. I hope that one day very soon we will be able to celebrate this occasion with the merit it deserves, and in the mean time we will honour their work by continuing to work hard to develop youth football on the Rock."