‘Izzy, to me, to me,” the cry comes from many voices. Izzy, two brown pigtails flying out behind her, passes the ball to her friend, who turns with it, neatly avoiding the opposition player on her heels. She passes to Holly in the blue boots. But then, as Holly turns and passes, the ball is lost in a tangle of players.
Suddenly the red team have it. It’s down the other end of the pitch in two passes. The midfielder crosses to a player in bright white socks and pink boots who, finding herself with space all around her, turns, aims and effortlessly shoots the ball into the back of the net over the outstretched hand of the keeper. “Yeees!” comes the cry from her teammates, who jog back to the centre of the pitch, pride evident in their faces.
This is fast play, it’s skilled play and it is play from a bouncy and enthusiastic side of 11-year-olds who are among more than 100 girls ranging from under nine through to 15 who play for Preston North End Women’s Junior Football Club.
It is a drizzly, grey Thursday evening and the girls are practising for future league and cup matches – as well as having a pretty good time with their friends. “I like doing skills and passing and stuff,” says nine-year-old Fran, who is practising those skills with her under-10s teammates at the next pitch along. “I especially like doing the scissors,” she says, demonstrating the move. Read more