Girls' football club eyes more opportunities for young players following Lionesses glory

The head of a Shropshire girls' football team says she's determined to open up opportunities to even more girls after England's Lionesses reached their first major women's tournament final since 2009.

England's Fran Kirby (second right) celebrates scoring her sides fourth goal during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 semi-final match at Bramall Lane
England's Fran Kirby (second right) celebrates scoring her sides fourth goal during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 semi-final match at Bramall Lane

England reached Sunday's Euro 2022 showpiece at Wembley in stunning fashion as they thrashed Olympic finalists Sweden 4-0 in Sheffield on Tuesday and will play Germany this weekend.

Helen Bourton, who is chair of Newport Girls Football Club, said she had noticed an incredible surge in interest since the start of the tournament.

And she added the semi-final victory, with goals from Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby, had elevated interest even more.

"It was an incredible night," Helen said. "I can't even begin to describe the joy.

"For me, as a club chairman, what was noticeable was before, during and after the semi-final, there were constant WhatsApp messages from families who attend our club.

"Mums and dads were saying how marvellous it was for their daughters to be looking at these role models and the way the Lionesses performed was incredible so that can only inspire more."

Helen added: "My mother, Olwyn, said she remembers me, as a child, saying 'why can't I play football?' My brothers could play and I wanted to.

"I'd say 'I'm as good as the boys' but, in the end, I had to play hockey. That was fine but I always wanted to do football.

"What we have to do now is make sure there is opportunity for every girl in school to play football - and not just play the game but also have the chance to become a young official. We want to have more female referees or coaches.

"There's more work to do but the success of the Lionesses is going to make a real difference.

"At our club, we have already got that many girls who want to join and our teams are full. I now need to create more teams for the girls who want to join.

"That will mean more volunteers and that's the push I am going to be doing. I am reaching out to parents and older children and seeing if I can encourage them to become a coach, a referee, team secretary or just a helper.

"We will continue to grow the club and are determined to make sure every girl has the opportunity to play football."

To find out more, call Helen on 07769 116680.

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