Girls from Crawley Town won the prestigious FA Football Festival at Wembley Powerleague on Sunday, before heading inside the stadium to cheer on the Lionesses in the historic fixture against Germany.The players have all started playing football in the past year through the FA’s Women’s and Girls’ Programme, which is run in partnership with Sport England, the Premier League and the Football League Trust.
The festival was the last in the 2014 series of FA Girls’ Football Festivals, run in partnership with Continental Tyres to encourage more girls to try out football. More than 8,000 girls, aged between 5 and 16, have taken part in the festivals in 2014.
All of the participating U16 teams were specially invited by the Premier League and Football League Trust to take part in a special 5-a-side tournament. Each of the clubs invited to the festival have all delivered sessions as part of the scheme, which has welcomed almost 21,000 young women into football since October 2013.
The tournament culminated in two finals, with Crawley Town running out 3-2 winners against Hull City in the Championship Final. Elsewhere, Peterborough beat Man City 3-1 in the Plate Competition.
Chloe Chesworth, aged 15, who scored the winning goal for Crawley Town Commented:
" It was an amazing experience to be involved in such a high profile tournament at the home of football. I loved meeting other girls from all over the Country. Crawley Town FC provided football sessions for us when I first got involved and I felt so proud to be able to represent my home Town. To be in a team with girls that I haven't played with before and end up scoring the winning goal in the final was an incredible feeling. "
The players were also joined by the injured England and Notts County Ladies player, Sophie Bradley, who took part in all of the activities on offer, including a question and answer session, giving the girls an insight into what it’s like to play for England and Notts County in the FA WSL.
The format of the day combined football, lifestyle and music. FA approved coaches led the festival, and there were a host of activities on offer in between matches. These ranged from skills and drills to interactive games (target shoot, speed cage, batak boards)
Notts County Ladies' Bradley said: "Events like this are fantastic, especially with the festival being held at the Power League just outside Wembley, before a landmark match for women’s football.
“It gives all the girls who have come along today, an opportunity to see where they could progress to and could find themselves playing one day."