Hundreds of girls across eight different age groups are lacing up ahead of the Northumberland Girls Football League Cup, sponsored by Wade Financial, with the games set to get underway in February.
All of the teams that belong to the league are given the chance to participate in the knockout competition – including Whitley Coast Soccer, whose under-12s side is coached by our very own David Dodds.
“It is a competition which is run for girls from under-10s to under-18s,” said NGFL chairperson Michele Hinds. “They’re from anywhere. If a girl wants to come in and play under Northumberland, they can come in. We’ve got them from Lowick right up to Bedlington, everywhere.”
Established in 2005, the NGFL has gone from strength to strength in its most recent years. ” We try to keep it friendly,” insisted secretary Gary Trewick. “You very rarely see an unhappy face, a lot of them are smiling. I think they enjoy it.”
That camaraderie is one of the cornerstones of the League, and is aided by the setup at Complete Football in Gosforth, according to registrations secretary Ian Coates. “At the youngest age groups, by playing at a central venue, you’re building a lot more friendships. It’s a safer environment, a controlled environment which gives them a great grounding to then go on as they get older to play on grass, and the other formats of football, such as 9 v 9 and 11 v 11.”
The League Cup pits the teams against one another until only two remain, and the NGFL work hard to ensure that the final is a special day, marking the occasion with a dedicated photographer and a an elaborate presentation of winners and runners-up trophies. “They get to take them home, and hopefully, they get to take a load of memories with them,” Ian added.
With interest in girls’ football at an all-time high, the NGFL continues to expand, dipping its toes into five-a-side competitions for the younger age ranges, as well as futsal participation for the oldest teams. Despite its popularity, the administrative costs remain high – making sponsors like Wade a necessity. “We all understand that parents are under massive burdens now financially when raising children,” Ian explained. “We try to lower that burden by keeping the league fees as low as possible, and the only way we can do that is to recruit sponsors like Wade Financial.”
It is certainly a worthy cause, and the unpaid volunteers on the committee all do their part to get more girls playing the beautiful game. “The ethos of the League is to keep as many girls playing football as long as possible, and to keep that interest all the way through, from under-10s to under-18s, and hopefully support their transition to womens’ football.”