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Girls from across the county descended on Northwood Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent to take part in a free FA Girls’ Football Festival last week, aimed...

Girls aged between 5 and 16 years from various schools within Staffordshire were invited to test their skills in a range of activities combining football, fun and music. The festivals are a joint initiative by The FA and Continental Tyres, providing an exciting, interactive football experience for both those new to the game and regular players.

Pupils, teachers and parents were all in attendance and have already started organising trips to see the SSE Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley next May! Teacher Cheryl Walker said said "Thank you so much, we had a wonderful time. The girls came in to school yesterday telling everyone about their day, which is great."

A year 10 student added "I can honestly say its been the highlight of high school. I’d love to attend another and possibly maybe even help out if I’m at college."

Festival sponsors Continental Tyres believe in the importance of grassroots football, with UK Marketing Director, Tracey Mortimer saying: “The FA Girls Football Festivals with Continental Tyres continues to grow year on year, giving tens of thousands of young girls from around the country the chance to get involved in  the sport.  At Continental Tyres we are extremely proud that 2017 is our 7th year partnering with The FA and undoubtedly is set to be the biggest and best so far. Who knows, perhaps in a few years’ time we may see a number of our festival attendees playing for their country!”

Accredited FA coaches led the event, with Staffordshire County FA staff and volunteers on hand to help. The sessions included skills and drills, interactive games, mini matches and the ContiWarmUp Programme - the coaching programme endorsed by The FA.

Throughout the day, the young athletes had the opportunity to meet a handful of players from Stoke City Ladies, including captain Meg Bowyer. Steve Appleton, Head Coach at Stoke City Ladies was also in attendance . The players were on hand to discuss life as a semi-professional female footballer and give advice on how to get involved in the game, ending the festival with an inspiring question and answer session.

Caroline Hulme, National Women’s Football Project Officer at The FA said: “We are delighted to bring the FA Girls’ Football Festivals in association with Continental Tyres to Staffordshire  The festivals have given thousands of girls the opportunity to try football in a fun and safe environment. It’s great to see so many girls adding to this number here at today’s event. The girls here today have had the opportunity to try all aspects of football and also had the chance to meet their role models from the female game. We hope that we have inspired these girls to seek further football opportunities following today, supporting our aim in doubling female participation by 2020.”

For more information on women’s football and where to play visit www.TheFA.com/ForGirls

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