Today saw the Whitehaven AFC U9 Lionesses who are sponsored by the amazing High Grange Development Team, play their final Festival as U9s before moving to U10s next season at the 11th Annual Haverigg FC Festival.
The U9s have endured a very difficult season, a brand new team with only 3 girls playing the season prior, and the final player arriving in December as well as being bottom age in a very competitive U10s WCYL age band meant it was hard work most of the season. The girls however along with their amazing parents have bought into what we try to teach and work on and in recent weeks we have seen them tying it all together, but today the young Lionesses came of age.
The Lionesses were playing for the very first time at Haverigg, a festival we’ve been to as a club for many years and we’d like to thank Haverigg FC once again for their hospitality. The Lionessss were facing a daunting task, playing recent Northbank FC Winners Dalton Aces, Thompson FC Runners Up, friend and class team Allerdale Tigers, and multiple event winners Whitehaven AFC U10s and the ever improving Allerdale Girls.
First up the U9s played their big sister team the U10s in what was a cracking game, both teams playing football from back to front with good passing and skills. The 9s continually chased down the 10s with Olivia Beattie leading the charge, directing team mates to cover players as she pressed the ball, something which was a reason she recently won Coaches Player of the Year.
At the back Anya Brannon was oozing confidence, winning difficult tackles and then calmly looking for team mates to pass to and never panicking, which had the crowd cheering.
Next up was the Allerdale Tigers, a very strong and powerful side, the young Lionesses had to be weary of the ball over the top and the bounce on a hard dry surface from the recent great weather we have had. Evie McDonald was calm at the back though and led by example, not only winning balls but playing some of the most difficult diagonal balls you could think of but always hitting the player she wanted.
In attack the bundle of energy that is Hannah Nicholson was everywhere, chasing down balls, and running herself into the ground. Up against U10s Girls meant in some tackles which were bone crunching she would end up on floor, but she’d be up in a heart beat before the defender had chance to clear and nicking the ball away again, something the girls are asked to do.
Next up was Allerdale Girls, player of the Festival for the team Kaitlin Walmsley was controlling everything, a Rolls Royce of a player, she could find a needle in a haystack with her passing, she has a great knack to hold it until the very last second before playing a great ball, always calm and a joy to watch. The Girls really now started to build a good bit of momentum and were pushing for goals with again Olivia Beattie doing skills and runs that took your breath away.
Final game was against eventual winners Dalton. Brooke Butler did a great job dominating the attacking areas and really setting the tone for the team, good with both feet and once she gets into her stride is hard to stop, she is just that little bit of Var Var Voom the team enjoys having.
The real threat though was coming from Marcey Nelson who’d had a fantastic day already but she was sticking to the key principle of staying on the ball and was wowing the cheering fans with numerous runs down the wing and getting good delivery into the box. Marcey is a girl who hadn’t played football until this season but now the team wouldn’t be the same without her, unbelievable player and the sky is the limit for her.
The U9 Girls amazingly finished 2nd in the group, ahead of the U10s on goal difference. They then progressed to the semi final against the U10s, the only side they’d lost to on the day. This was a huge deal for the girls and the U10s were very kind in congratulating them on doing a great job.
The 9s played an amazing Semi Final and for large parts of the game they were the best team. Lexie Roberts in goal was superb when the 10s did attack, not making 1 top class save, not 2, not even 3 but 4 very good saves. Lexie had a very good festival all day, playing in a range of positions, from counter attacker, to attack and in goal where she wanted to be to help her team in a big game, showing real Lioness bravery. The girls unfortunately lost, but not after taking the U10s to extra time.
Coach Rob Campbell said ‘Today, these girls efforts made it feel like a win, I’m still buzzing now from how well they have done, and I hope they tell all their family and friends how good they were. It’s been a tough season for the lasses but they are a great bunch and always listened and tried to do what we ask, this is a great reward for them and should give them real confidence for next season. I must also thank the amazing parents as well, I know it’s not easy sometimes seeing your daughter in a hard position and under pressure on the pitch and scared they’ll make a mistake and cost a goal, however they all understand what we trying to achieve and without their support it wouldn’t be possible, it’s nice they had an enjoyable day today as well and enjoyed their daughters doing great. I’d also like to thank High Grange Developments once again for sponsoring us this season and look forward to being with them next year as well, the kits they have give them real identity and have helped us massively this season’
Player of the Festival Kaitlin Walmsley!