A POPULAR grassroots football tournament that gets its name from a 60s pop group has welcomed thousands of football fans this weekend.

The Crowle Searches Tournament is an annual football event where more than 100 teams across Worcestershire and Herefordshire and other areas take part.

Having been going for over 10 years, the tournament prides itself on providing children with a fun environment to play in and encourages volunteers to get involved to ensure grassroots clubs can stay afloat.

Adrian Coleman, who is chairman of the Crowle Searchers Tournament and Crowle Searchers Football Club, revealed how the foundations of the event were laid.

"The club was formed in 2005 in what was initially just my two sons and six mates," he said.

"The Searchers (pop group) were playing locally and helped us purchase our first kit, that's where we got the name from.

"It's grown and grown. We have teams from under 6s to under 18s, a men's Sunday team and for the first time next year a girls team."

The six-a-side tournament features 140 teams ranging from under 7s to under 13s, with clubs entering from over Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Bath.

More than 1,400 children are registered to play with over 400 games being held across the two-day event from Saturday, May 18 to Sunday, May 19.

Local partners help put the tournament together each year, including the University of Worcester, Crowle First School, Tibberton First School, The Shop at Crowle, Crowle Preschool and Crowle Church.

Mr Coleman expects the tournament will welcome as many as 3,000 to 4,000 visitors over the weekend.

"There has always been a sense of fun and enjoyment for the players," he said.

"After the end of the season where all the players have finished playing in their leagues, this is a bit of fun for them to enjoy and have a great day.

"The major motivation is it being a day out and not just a football tournament.

"There are fairground rides, market and food stalls - it's a festival atmosphere.

"The aim is to maximise enjoyment.

"Money raised goes towards running the football club and partner organisations."

Mr Coleman emphasised the importance of volunteers coming forward to help keep all grassroots clubs alive.

"All grassroots teams are run by volunteers.

"We want to encourage people to help out otherwise there'd be no football clubs."

The Crowle Searchers Tournament will be held at the The Jubilee Playing Fields this weekend from 9am to 7pm both days.