Festival fun takes football to yet more girls in Chichester

Girls enjoy a recent football festival in Chichester
Girls enjoy a recent football festival in Chichester

Chichester College and Chichester City Ladies have combined forces this season to bring girls’ football to the masses with a series of festivals.

Two years ago, there were no opportunities for girls to play football in the city, so a team of dedicated senior female players from Chichester City Ladies set about establishing girls-only after-school clubs, which led to a regular club at a central location.

With three sides established and playing in leagues and tournaments this season, the club and college decided to bolster numbers through providing opportunities for primary schools to come to the college and take part in a girls’ football festival.

The project has been headed by Chichester City Ladies first-team manager Matt Wright although the lion’s share of the work, including lead coaching, has been done by Chichester’s award-winning coach Lizzy Ogden.

Ogden has invited schools along and she and a team of female students lead fun sessions to encourage girls to take up the sport.

Several schools have got involved and the feedback from the irls and PE staff has been fantastic.

James Atkins form March School said: “The event was a great success and owes much thanks to all the excellent leaders who helped encourage and support the children throughout the afternoon.”

Ogden has been overwhelmed with the interest and said: “The uptake from the schools has been phenomenal - we were booked up very quickly and have had to provide additional dates. In total we will be coaching more than 600 girls this season with the aim of getting girls along to our Saturday club.”

The impact on the girls’ Saturday sessions has been tremendous to the extent that the club has now been moved to Chichester University as the previous site could not cope with numbers.

Head coach and first-team goalkeeper Hannah McNamara said: ‘We are now seeing close to 50 girls turn up every Saturday because of the impact of the festivals. It is exciting times for our girls’ set-up.”

Wright said none of this would have been possible without the support of their partners.

“The college and university have been fantastic in supporting the festivals but none of this could have happened without the female coaches within the Chichester female football system. The time and effort they put in reflects their dedication to the game and their passion for giving local girls playing opportunities.”

The Saturday Club runs at the university from 10am to 11.30am every week. For more information on how to get involved, email matt.wright@chichester.ac.uk

Chichester City Ladies drew 1-1 with leaders Swindon Town. The goalscorer was Kally Ambler.

Bexhill 1 Chichester City ladies Res 1 (aet, Bexhill won 4-3 on pens)

League Cup semi-final

Chichester suffered heartbreak when they missed out on a place in the League Cup final in the cruellest way imaginable.

With striker Lauren Ellis out injured, Lizzy Ogden came into midfield and worked hard with non-stop energy.

A cheap free-kick was awarded to Bexhill on the corner of the box and the delivery bounced back off the bar to a Bexhill striker who made it 1-0 to the home team.

Chichester began to enjoy good possession and Amy Bailey’s long throws caused problems. A couple of good corners from Jodie Greenway were well dealt with by Bexhill.

For all their possession, Chichester weren’t threatening the Bexhill keeper - but Naomi Parfoot in the Chichester goal was also having a quiet time.

In time being added on to the first half, a long ball over the top from Baker found Bailey, who lobbed the keeper to make it 1-1.

The second half saw chances few and far between but Natalie Clarke was working hard down Chichester’s right. Sian Payne continued to drive forward but extra-time was needed.

Chichester almost sneaked ahead a couple of times - once from a free-kick on the edge of the area by Greenway that was saved well by the Bexhill keeper. With Georgia Selby closing in on the rebound it went out for another corner.

It went to penalties and Parfoot in the Chichester goal got close on more than one occasion to saving a Bexhill penalty but with two misses to Bexhill’s one, Chichester lost 4-3.

City return to league action this week knowing two wins from their remaining four games will clinch the title.