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Gotherington Juniors have more than 100 girls signed on for new football season

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Saturday, 6th August 2022, 10:00

Gotherington have more than 100 girls signed on for next season Gotherington have more than 100 girls signed on for next season

It’s still only a few days since the wonderful Lionessess charmed the nation by winning Euro 2022 with that drama-filled 2-1 extra-time win over Germany.

That opening goal by Ella Toone, Chloe Kelly’s celebration after scoring what turned out to be the winner, and the scenes on the pitch and among the crowd at Wembley followed by the celebrations in Trafalgar Square the next day, will long live in the memory for many supporters.

Women’s and girls’ football in this country is certainly buoyant at the moment and there’s little doubt that with the right support it’s going to grow and grow in years to come.

It’s been growing for quite a while at a number of clubs across Gloucestershire, of course, and that’s definitely the case at Gotherington Juniors where they have more than 100 girls signed on for the new season.

“We’ve actually got 105 signed on,” said Stewart Peters, head of girls’ football at Gotherington, “it’s a staggering number.”

And what makes that number even more staggering is that it was only three years ago that girls started playing football at the club.

“My daughter who is now 11 was in year 4 at Woodmancote School at the time,” Peters explained. “She’d never shown any interest in football but one day she came home and said, ‘Dad, I want to play football, can you find me a team?’

“So I just decided to start a girls’ team.”

That was back in early June 2019. Peters was already coaching his son Taylor’s team at Gotherington – Taylor is three years ahead of sister Sienna – so Peters senior, who is an FA-qualified coach, had a good idea of what was needed to get a girls’ section up and running, although even he has been blown away by how quickly it has developed.

“We had 10 players at Gotherington School for that first training session,” recalled Peters. “They were under-9s and none of them had ever played football before, some of them didn’t even know what shape a football was!

“They were a group of complete beginners. We trained throughout the summer and you could see a degree of improvement.

“By the September we had 15 players so we decided to throw them into the under-10 division of the Gloucester County Girls’ League.”

That in itself was a brave move – albeit clearly the correct one – because in their first game they were beaten heavily by Cheltenham Town.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener,” admitted Peters, “it wasn’t pretty.”

But the girls were enthusiastic, quick learners and wanted to improve, so much so that by the end of the season they were starting to win quite a few games.

“We realised that we can give girls the opportunity to play football, enjoy the game and be good at it too,” revealed Peters.

“The second season was the ground-breaking one. A couple of other teams in the area folded and we started getting a few more players, the standard went up. We fielded teams at under-10s and under-12s and we started to get a few younger players as well.

“Last season it went through the roof, we had so many more players, we had five squads.”

And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality too, because in the three years that Gotherington have been running girls’ teams they have enjoyed plenty of success.

The under-12s won a division and the under-10s reached a cup final in the second season in 2021/22, the under-11s won a cup final and reached another, the under-10s made it through to a cup final and the under-13s got to the last four of the County Cup and finished runners-up in the league. On top of that, there were tournament wins for both the under-10s and under-12s.

The club will be hoping for more success in 2022/23, of course, when they will be fielding teams at under-8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 age groups in the Gloucester County Girls’ League, as well as running an under-6 training squad.

“We really are growing at a rate of knots,” said Peters. “We’ve managed to get coaches and the parents involved. The ambition is to eventually field teams in every age group up to under-18, that’s our goal.

“And if we need to have multiple age groups teams, then let’s do it, let’s get as many girls playing football as possible.”

And what about an adult team?

“There’s nothing to stop us doing that in the future,” said Peters. “The last thing we want is for people to drop out of football. It’s obviously something we’ll look at although it is a few years away yet.”

The number of pitches – or lack of them – may be a problem going forward but Peters is confident that if and when that does become an issue the club will be able to find a solution.

That’s good news because two of the club’s players have already progressed to play at county level, while four players have been referred to the Lioness Talent Pathway.

Any mention of the Lionesses has Peters purring, understandably, and he says quite simply: “They’ve inspired us all. That first goal against Germany, it wasn’t just the finish, the through ball by Keira Walsh wouldn’t have been out of place in the Premier League.

“The football that the women play is very technical, very skilful, very well thought through, they don’t panic. It’s a great product.”

It certainly is and girls’ football, women’s football and football as a whole in this country is sure to benefit from the Lionessess remarkable achievements for many years to come.

Any girls interested in joining Gotherington Juniors should email  stewartpetersgjfc@gmail.com

Gotherington Juniors also field multiple boys' teams across various age groups in the Cheltenham Youth League.

Other Images

The under-7s training at Gotherington
Gotherington’s under-10s and 12s were tournament winners at Evesham
Gotherington’s under-13s
Gotherington under-13s training

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