Girls do Mangotsfield proud at Wembley
IT was a day to remember when a team from Mangotsfield School stepped onto the Wembley pitch to contest a cup final.
And although the players, representing Bristol Rovers, were beaten to the EFL Girls Cup by a team from Sunderland, they did the school and club proud.
The experience left them determined to play at the home of the English game again – and take their footballing careers on to a high level.
The eight girls – Jennifer Smith, Jess Harvey, Hannah Long, Ella Hillier, Emily Lancaster, Lillian Briddon, Freya Batten and Lilli Sargent – came through 20 matches in three under-13s tournaments to make it to Wembley, including a penalty shoot-out against Bristol City.
Their match was staged before the Checkatrade Trophy final on March 31.
Although they took an early lead through City fan Jess, the girls from the North East levelled before half-time and scored two more in the second half, to win the match 3-1.
The Mangotsfield players still had the honour of a visit to the Royal Box to receive their medals and also met England international Jordan Nobbs.
Lilli said: “It’s always been a dream to play at Wembley and it was a great experience I hope to do again.”
Jess said: “Scoring a goal at Wembley was a surreal experience. The support from family was amazing and I hope to be able to play at Wembley again.”
Lillian added: “It was an amazing experience and it’s inspired me to play football at a high standard.”
Mangotsfield PE teacher Georgia Malpas said the Wembley final had been a “once in a lifetime experience” which she and the girls had thoroughly enjoyed.
She said: “We are really proud of the girls’ achievement and hope to be in the same position next year!”
School head David Spence said: “We are very proud as a school of our amazing girls, who did the school and Bristol Rovers proud. The club has been fabulous, and it is yet another example of the brilliant work done by Bristol Rovers Community Trust. It also again proves the power of sport to push young people to do amazing things.”
Matthew Davies, of the community trust, said he and his colleagues were “incredibly proud” of the girls’ achievement.
He said: “To reach the final of a tournament where over 6,000 girls took part from the first local rounds is astonishing. There's no hiding away from the fact that women's and girls’ football is growing at some pace and this achievement highlights the progress that is being made on and off the pitch. It's been a fantastic journey and I hope that the girls will look back on these last few months with pride."
All pics courtesy of Bristol Rovers Community Trust