World tournament delight for girls team

The Ponteland Community Middle School girls football team that won the national ESFA cup at the finals in Coventry.
The Ponteland Community Middle School girls football team that won the national ESFA cup at the finals in Coventry.

A group of young footballers at Ponteland Community Middle School will aim to achieve more English success in Spain when they take part in a major international event next year.

Earlier this year, the team of Year 5 and 6 – now Year 6 and Year 7 – pupils won the English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) Danone Nations Schools’ Cup for Girls competition at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

And it has now been confirmed that they will represent England at a Nations Cup World Finals tournament, also sponsored by food giant Danone, in the Barcelona area during summer 2019.

The Ponteland girls won the Northumberland and regional competitions to qualify for the finals in Coventry. All of their games are seven-a-side.

The squad for the culmination of the national tournament was Lucy Dodd, Cara Fisher, Katy Bullock, Izzy Robson, Ellie Winter, Jemima Aspinall, Bella Russell, Brooke Williams, Isla Gardner.

At the three-day international event, they will face teams from Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the USA, as well as the host nation.

The England senior men’s football team won 3-2 away to Spain on Monday night.

Lewis Crane, Year 6 teacher and girls football coach at Ponteland Community Middle School, said: “Something about the Nations Cup World Finals was mentioned online, but I didn’t have confirmation that we would be involved when the new term started after the summer holidays.

“It turned out that the ESFA had the wrong email address for me, but thankfully they managed to get in touch with me recently.

“The girls are all very excited – it’s a dream come true for them.

“They will be wearing the England colours and the sponsor will be paying for flights and accommodation. It will be the first time that an English girls team takes part in the tournament.

“All of the players are very talented and three of the girls are at the Sunderland academy.”

At the Ricoh Arena, the Ponteland team qualified for the semi-finals of the ESFA Danone Nations Schools’ Cup for Girls in style by winning all three group games by at least two goals, but the last four match was a much tougher task against a physically imposing team.

After conceding a late equaliser to make it 1-1, they stayed strong during extra time and ended up winning on penalties.

In the final against The Gerrards Cross CofE School near London, the girls once again showed how talented they are as a solid team performance and an unstoppable long-range effort from Jemima ensured that they were crowned national champions with a 1-0 win.