How to Set-up a Youth Football Tournament
15th May 2011

A junior youth football soccer tournament offers an alternative setting for the young players to improve friendship bonds outside of the structured setting of pre-planned training and matches. Having a group of young footballers in close proximity helps to develop the team’s spirit.

In addition to the players, the parents also have an opportunity to spend time together and also getting to know one another in different surroundings to the touch-line on match days.  

Junior tournaments also provide a fundraising opportunity for the organisers. For local club tournaments, the club has the chance to improve their finances significantly. If the tournament is well planned and provides added services, such as refreshments, photography, services and other activities, it has the ability to make a huge impact towards club funds.

Football tournaments and festivals are also set-up by companies with the sole purpose of making a profit for the organisers. If your club needs an injection of funds, and at the same time increasing its local profile, then a youth football tournament is something to consider carefully.

It is not difficult to organise a tournament and there is not too much financial outlay to be made, though it does take some effort and you need manpower to put it on.

If you have never organised a football tournament before, it may be worth starting small and setting up for one age group. As your confidence grows and you get more experienced you should then consider expanding.

You don’t need to hold just one tournament per year, and you may, if you have time and resources, consider hosting one tournament in the spring and a second in the autumn, before the start of the season. Many clubs hold spring tournaments, but few hold them during the late summer holiday weekend, just before school term starts, and this could be a very good time to capture the maximum number of teams, when football is back on people’s minds. Of course holding two tournaments a year will potentially double your fund raising capabilities.

A well run tournament, which has been able to keep the costs at a minimum could expect to raise at least £500 with many raising much much more.

If you decide to set-up and hold a football tournament at your club you need to organise a tournament committee. This group will define what sort of tournament you will run, and start to develop a plan with which you will follow for the set-up and delivery of the event. It is very difficult to organise a tournament on your own, and you will need plenty of people to help, even if it is a small event.  

The first thing that you must decide upon is the date the tournament will take place on. It must be when the most number of people will be available and when the most number of teams will be able to attend. Don’t schedule it for the middle of school summer holidays because most of the players will be away, and be sure to check if there are any other tournaments being run in your area to avoid any conflict with them if possible.  

Having decided on a date you need to agree which age groups and how many teams you will have per age group. This sets out the size of the tournament. A guide would be to invite enough teams to fill two leagues of 5 or 6 teams per age group. 5 teams will produce 10 fixtures and 6 teams will give you 15 fixtures. This is important because time will be a factor, and you should not have too many teams, meaning you will not only need more time to complete the games but also more referees. Having two leagues allows for semi-finals between teams in the two leagues, and you have the opportunity to run a supplementary competition for the teams finishing 3rd and 4th in the two leagues.  

Once the size and date of the competition has been decided, you now need to draw up an application entry form and produce a set of rules.

The entry form needs to be sent out as soon as possible, and it should include some basic information, including the entry fee and payment information for the teams and the closing date for entries. It would also be useful to request the club name, contact details and league affiliation number, to ensure you have entries from real football clubs.  

You must allocate the activity of preparing and distributing the entry information to the relevant parties.  

Having decided upon the fundamentals of the tournament, it’s time to turn your attention to the set-up of the competition. The following breaks the preparations into stages, much the same as a project stage.

Ground Set-up

  • How big should the pitches be?

  • How many pitches should there be?

  • Where will the pitches be located?

  • When should the pitches be laid out?

  • Who will mark out the pitches?

  • Pitch number boards How many goals sets of goals do you need?

  •  Can the goals up the night before and leave them ready for the morning?

  • Do you have poles and rope to mark the car park out for the cars?

  • Who can layout the car park?

  • When can the car park be laid out?

  • Do you have high vis vests etc for the parking attendants?

  • Can you get buckets for the attendants?

  • Charge for £1 parking

  • Can you ensure easy entry and exit for services eg ambulance?

  • Do you need a sign on the road informing visitors of the tournament, including parking charges?

  • Who will contact St John’s or First Aiders to check for their services?  


  • What should you sell? How much will you charge?

  • Who will be available to manage the refreshments?

  • Have you considered the services of an ice-cream van, and who can check and arrange?

  • Is there enough toilets for the expected number of people?    


  • How long will the matches be? Which age group will play on which pitch?

  • Who can get white boards and pens for the scores? Who can set-up fixtures?

  • Who can provide PC to store results and print sheets?

  • How many people do you need run the control area jobs? What needs to be done?

  • What should be included in the info pack for the teams?

  • Should you have one booklet for all teams or individual sheets for separate leagues?  

  • Who can source bin bags for teams?  

  • What are the competition rules and who will create them?

  • What should be on the referees score slips?

  • Who will produce and print them?  

  • Can you get volunteer referees? Do they have whistles?

  • If not enough volunteers, can we use league officials?  

  • How many balls do you need?

  • Who will buy the balls?

  • When will they be bought?

  • How many trophies and medals do you need?

  • Who will source them? When will they be bought?

  • How much will they cost, do you have enough funds to pay for them?  


  • Can you get help to clean-up the ground afterwards?

  • Is there a big enough bin the put all the rubbish in?

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