Leith Academy giving a chance to girl footballers

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AS the Lothians Schools boys’ football season draws ever nearer to the final round of competitive fixtures, the girls, on the other hand, are just beginning to make headway in their participation of the game.

For Leith Academy girls’ football team in particular, they have recently been the fortunate recipients of a new sponsorship deal from Loanhead-based car repair centre, Edgefield Coachworks.

In addition, they have also been supplied with the comfort of new strips to match their ambitions for future competition and, ultimately, success in providing local football for teenage girls.

Leith Academy PE teacher and girls’ football squad coach Andrew Enwood, has been encouraged by the level of response since the teams came into fruition last October. With the girls being represented on two fronts, S1-S3 and the seniors of S4-S6, the school is catering for girls of all ages.

“There seemed to be a real interest when speaking to the girls but there was nothing concrete in store for them,” Enwood said.

“It’s great to now have some sort of structure in place so this will allow them to play from first year at high school, right through to their last should they have the desire to.

“We’ve played about six different schools now with a couple more still in the pipeline before the summer break across the different age groups so it’s great the girls are keen to play. It is only friendly matches we are playing at the moment but it’s good to see them supporting one another on the park where it really helps with their development.”

A keen football player himself, Enwood is optimistic the level of interest shown from schoolgirls in the Edinburgh and Lothians region can act as a catalyst for greater invention from the Lothian Schools Football Association to install a league structure throughout the academic year. However, Leith Academy, a school where a desire to broaden their horizon within the community is just as strong an incentive, is not content to rest.

“I certainly believe there is scope for an organised league for girls to play football and represent their school,” said Enwood. “There are cup competitions for girls which are run by the Scottish Schools Football Association but they’re just a one-off really. But we have some girls in our squads that play for Leith Athletic so we want to try and build links within the community and get more girls involved in football outwith school as well. But I don’t see why there can’t be a league for girls school football come August and the new term.”

Enwood reinforces the school’s appreciation for the gesture made by the repair business for sponsoring and donating strips to the girls’ senior team. He did stress, however, that despite the enthusiasm for such a project to advance, there were concerns raised with regards to the support required to get things in motion.

“We did wonder when we first started what sort of clothing the girls would wear to the matches and we did suggest the possibility of doing some fundraisers. But it turned out one girl’s dad sponsors a local boys football club so he was very open and generous to sponsor and pay for our strips as well. It is fantastic support for us and it was nice for the girls as they had a say in the design of the shirts so we’re very grateful.”

The school’s senior team already have a star of the future in midfielder Siobhan Hunter, who currently represents Hibs’ Ladies team as well as the national side’s under-19s squad. The sixth-year student has already had the pleasure of travelling to La Manga on the coast of Spain for international duty this season and is destined to progress further with her career.

Also present to watch Leith Academy’s most recent fixture against opponents Firrhill High School was Michelle Neish of Edgework Coachworks, who is delighted to assist with sponsorship as well as the addition of some new team kits. She said: “I am just delighted to be able to help out the school and the girls. It is great to get the game up and running in Leith and I wish them every success.”