Girls are moving the goalposts in Stockport

17 Sep 2019 08:52
Published by: Kian French

It is the second week of the Stockport Girls League and more than 400 girls are showcasing their football skills across two venues in Cheadle Hulme, with hundreds of spectators eagerly watching from the side-lines.

The action is fast-paced, with Cruyff turns and step-overs aplenty plus goals galore. The sheer delight on the faces of the players is the standout feature - and is almost matched by parents bursting with pride just behind the Respect barriers.

Stockport Girls League is a division of Cheshire Girls League. It was created in 2018 to provide Saturday morning football for the area's growing legion of female players. It began with a handful of clubs involved, across four age groups - from under nines to under 12s - playing at Cheadle and Gatley Football Club.

In just 12 months the league has more than doubled in size. Seventeen clubs are now involved with 38 individual teams - and more set to join. Partway through last season the league moved to the brand new 4G pitches at the Seashell Trust in Cheadle. The league's expansion and influx of new teams now necessitates a second venue, with this season's U12s playing at Bradshaw Hall Playing Fields.

Jane Morley, secretary of Stockport Girls League, said: "The response to the league has been incredible. It has exceeded all my expectations. I can see the league expanding even more during the season - and certainly next season.

"The standard is just getting better and better, but the really important thing is the enjoyment these girls get out of playing week in, week out. An awful lot of work - all through loyal volunteers - goes on behind the scenes but what you see on a Saturday morning makes it all worthwhile."

Lou Wood is assistant coach for FC Bluestar Quasars U10s. She said: "The league has been fantastic for the girls. Last season's under nines league started with only four teams and now there's 11. There's a real appetite for girls football in the Stockport area.

"It's a real joy for me to be involved with this team. The development, individually and as a team, has just been incredible. As a club we're non-selective. We operate an equal game-time for all policy with players operating in all positions - and you can really see the benefits."

Sadie Mills, aged nine and resplendent in her new kit courtesy of sponsors Bands FC, plays for the Quasars. She said: "I love playing football with my friends. I love trying to go past players and I also really like passing to me teammates!"

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