Super League players at Wimbledon tournament
Chelsea FC Ladies players inspired local school girls to follow in their footsteps by attending the AFC Wimbledon Female Football Festival yesterday.
Just five days before Chelsea FC’s men visit AFC Wimbledon for a pre-season friendly, Gilly Flaherty, Jackie Groenen and Emma Wilhelmsson were on hand to promote the women’s game at a schools tournament at the Kingsmeadow Athletics & Fitness Centre.
Gilly (top left in picture), Jackie (bottom left) and Emma (top right) all play in the Women’s Super League for Chelsea, who entertain Arsenal Ladies tomorrow.
.You TubeA video interview with Gilly and Katie Quinlan, AFC Wimbledon Foundation Women & Girls Development Officer, can be viewed by clicking on
Five school teams battled it out at the competition yesterday with Greenshaw High, Chestnut Grove, Glenthorne and Holy Cross (A & B team) all represented.
Chestnut Grove won 1-0 in the final against Holy Cross B, but spreading the word about the women’s game and increasing participation was the goal of this tournament.
Katie Quinlan said: “For the past six weeks I’ve been going into secondary schools and working alongside the Football League Trust to promote their Female Football Development programme. We’ve been trying to raise participation in women’s football among 14-25 year olds and to give those already involved more playing opportunities. We’ve been running training sessions every week during PE lessons and this tournament is a culmination of the work.
“The tournament provides an opportunity for the girls to meet Women’s Super League players, but the Surrey County FA are also here to promote refereeing and coaching opportunities. We really appreciate the Chelsea Ladies players giving up their time to show what can be achieved.”
Gilly, who joined Chelsea Ladies from Arsenal last season, said: “It’s a good part of being a professional footballer to support grass roots football. When I was younger I aspired to be a footballer and I can remember meeting Katie Chapman and Rachel Yankey at a tournament years ago. I had tears in my eyes when I saw them because they were my biggest role models and they still are now.
“I’m fortunate to be a professional footballer and it’s good to be allowed to give that hope to these girls that they can do it. If they want to carry on with their football there are pathways in place for them to achieve what they want and they just need to stay focused.”
London Bees are also in the Women’s Super League and Dawn Mallett and Danni Oates both also attended the tournament to show their support.
Jon Burr, Womens & Girls Football Development Officer at the Surrey County FA, said: “Having the support of Chelsea FC Ladies is the pinnacle because their players give young girls inspiration. But to have AFC Wimbledon involved is very important too because the aim is to provide opportunities at all levels. AFC Wimbledon Girls and Ladies is a good club and has a good youth section and there may be opportunities for school girls to carry on playing with them. There’s also pathways for girls to move into refereeing or coaching if they wish to pursue these options.”
With the help of Kay Skelton, Executive Director at the AFC Wimbledon Foundation, the club has secured funding from the Football League Trust to run similar initiatives for women’s football next season.
Gilly Flaherty, Jackie Groenen and Emma Wilhelmsson are pictured above with girls from Glenthorne School and our gallery above shows more pictures from the day.