Sunday, 19 May 2024
Sunday, 19 May 2024

Female footballers reach major competition final representing Oxford United

A group of female footballers who met at a free-to-attend programme in Blackbird Leys have qualified for a national final this summer due to be held at St George’s Park in Staffordshire.

Girls from Oxford United in the Community’s Premier League Kicks sessions booked their spot in the Premier League Kicks Cup final after winning five out of six matches during a regional qualifier held in Portsmouth.

The team won matches against Crawley, Brighton, Reading, Southampton and Southend to become the first Oxford team to qualify for the competition’s national final.

It comes less than four years after the football club’s official charity officially launched Premier League Kicks in Oxfordshire. The programme is free for male and female participants and uses the power of football to inspire young people to reach their true potential.

Nationally, over half a million football-mad youngsters have engaged with Premier League Kicks since its launch in 2006 with former participants including Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Declan Rice and Wilfried Zaha.

Mark Thomas, Social Inclusion Lead at Oxford United in the Community, said qualifying for the national final was not only a huge achievement but also a positive life experience for players.

He said:

“Representing the Oxford United badge is not something every player in our county has the opportunity to do. So, for our girls team to pull on the U’s shirt and qualify for a major competition final on the same day was a real treat for our Oxford Premier League Kicks participants.

“Everyone was in high spirits on the journey back from the south coast with the day epitomising the power of football and its ability to bring people together.

“Results are always secondary at this level with our primary focus on creating positive and fulfilling experiences for participants. But, winning the regional event was a great achievement and everyone is looking forward to the final at St George’s Park this summer.”

Funded through the Premier League Charitable Fund, Premier League Kicks is delivered by Oxford United in the Community’s team of coaches in locations across the county during term time.

Sessions blend workshops with social action campaigns and training to support the provision of football, enhance physical and mental wellbeing and support young people with challenges they might face.

Mark added:

“The sad reality is, not every young person living in Oxfordshire will be able to access training and playing opportunities due to cost, equipment and geographical barriers they might face.

“Premier League Kicks aims to bring people together and develop positive and supportive relationships with like-minded people and is delivered as part of our work to inspire happier, healthier and better-connected communities.

“Spaces are available on a first come, first served, basis so anyone who wishes to get involved is advised to contact our team for more details.”

Premier League Kicks sessions in Oxford are delivered at Leys Pool and Leisure Centre every Friday night during term time. Sessions for players aged 11-14 are held from 6pm until 7.30pm, with a 15-18 year-old session held from 7.30pm until 9pm.

Sessions are also held in Banbury at The Hill Sports and Community Facility and North Oxfordshire Academy with plans to launch Premier League Kicks in Abingdon and Witney soon.

Male and female players of all abilities are welcome, those interested can find out more information on how to join by emailing: plkicks@oufc.co.uk.

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