The Year 8’s girls’ team from Chingford Foundation School suffered heartbreak in the closing seconds of their semi-final match versus their counterparts representing Gillingham at the Football League’s Girls Cup Area Finals on Thursday when they conceded a goal with just 30 seconds remaining of normal time, losing the game 1-0.
The girls had beaten off challenges from 15 other school teams in their local competition in November last year and had travelled to the Waterside Farm leisure centre, Canvey Island, as Leyton Orient’s representatives in this prestigious competition that sees the ultimate finalists oppose each other on the hallowed turf of Wembley prior to the League One play-off final!
Every league club across the country has to host its own local competition to find a school representative who then competes in Area Finals leading to Regional Finals which then determines two teams, one from the north of England and one from the south.
Hosted by Southend United’s community programme, the O’s were placed in a group of four with rivals representing Millwall, Southend and Dagenham & Redbridge and remained unbeaten, winning two and drawing one which was enough to see them into the semi-final as group runners-up on goal difference to Southend.
Gillingham was winners of the other group that had Charlton as runners-up, along with schools from Colchester and AFC Wimbledon.
Head of Girls PE at CF, Trudi Culverhouse said, “We had hoped to go at least one better this time around as we were Orient’s representatives two years ago. It’s a fantastic experience for the girls and a great opportunity for the school but it just wasn’t to be. But we had two of our year 7 girls playing and they will take the experience into next year which will hold them in good stead.
“We are really grateful to Howard for the opportunity and the girls looked great in their O’s kit! Overall we’ve really enjoyed ourselves and we’re already looking forward to going for it again next season.”
All the girls received Football League certificates and pennants as a memento of the day and goalkeeper Anna O’Connell was presented with a medal as the squad player of the day for her consistent positive displays between the sticks.
“The girls put on a great showing,” commented Howard Gould, Leyton Orient Development Coach and Club Liaison Officer, “and were worthy representatives. The group games went really well but we came up against a strong Gillingham team who just had the edge on the day. The tournament was really well organised and the timing was perfect as the rain poured down just as we left the venue! It’s a great day out for all concerned and like the girls, I’m already looking forward to next year with a determination to make it through to the regionals.
“Mind you, we now have the Kids Cup (Year 6 boys) to look forward to in March where our school representatives, Chase Lane from Chingford, will be travelling to Swindon in their regional final. Win that and we’re at Wembley! All very exciting!”
Back row L-R: Saidh Medhurst Anna O’Connell, Emilija Bitinaite, Precious Opoku, Tiya Scott-Preston
Front row L-R: Jessica Cotton, Bethany Chambers, Selen Tahir