A team from Laisterdyke Leadership Academy triumphed in a national girls’ football competition that brought together nine schools run by our academy sponsor, Star Academies.

A group of Year 7 and 8 pupils travelled to Manchester City FC’s City Football Academy for the competition which took place just ahead of the FA’s Girls’ Football Week, on Friday 20 April.

The competition brought together 90 pupils from nine Star schools across the UK for a day of football in a friendly, competitive environment in the shadow of the Ethihad stadium. The event was a celebration of the Trust’s designation as an FA Girls’ Football Hub and, more importantly, the positive impact of this on female pupils who have received football coaching and developed their skills.

After battling it out on the pitch against eight other schools in a league-style competition, the Laisterdyke girls took on Blackpool’s Highfield Leadership Academy in the final.

Both teams played well in a tense game that went to extra time, with Laisterdyke’s forward Tenan Baldeh scoring her 31st goal of the day to secure her team a 2-1 victory.

Former Everton FC and England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis presented all pupils with their certificates of participation, with medals and a glass trophy for Laisterdyke. Rachel also shared words of encouragement and inspiration with the young players, highlighting to the female pupils the variety of careers available to them through football.

Laisterdyke’s team captain Kirah Scott of Year 8 said:

“It was a brilliant day. We all enjoyed playing against other Star schools and making new friends. Obviously winning was the best bit!”

Tara Walker, PE teacher at Laisterdyke Leadership Academy, added:

“The tournament was a fantastic opportunity for the pupils to demonstrate their skills; they went from strength to strength throughout the day. Winning was a massive confidence boost. Hopefully this experience will give the girls the stepping stone into playing football for a local club.”

Rachel Brown-Finnis commented:

“What a brilliant event! It was great to see so many smiling faces and there was just the right balance between the girls enjoying themselves and being competitive.

“It’s great that so many girls are being given the chance to get involved in the game. It’s so important to facilitate a girls’ football programme like this that gives them the chance to try something new. The FA recognises the impact of physical activity on confidence and self-esteem, as well as skills development.

“The Trust did an amazing job of bringing together girls from their schools across the country. I found it very inspirational to see so many girls from different backgrounds playing together – for me that was very positive to see. Whatever background these young people are from, it’s important to give them the opportunity. Football is for everyone, after all.”

Kate Hebden, Head of Pupil Leadership Specialism at Star Academies, commented:

“We are very proud to be an FA Girls’ Football Hub and pleased to see that the programmes our teachers are delivering are having a real impact on the number of girls playing football across the Trust’s schools.  Our girls’ football competition was a celebration of how our schools have really stepped up their participation in girls’ football this year. It gave our pupils a platform to showcase their skills, as well as an opportunity to demonstrate the Trust’s STAR values of service, teamwork, ambition and respect. It was a fantastic day to be a part of.”