Female footballers reach major competition final representing Oxford United

A group of female footballers who met at a free-to-attend programme in Blackbird Leys have qualified for a national final this summer, due to be held at St George’s Park in Staffordshire.

Girls from Oxford United in the Community’s Premier League Kicks sessions booked their spot in the Premier League Kicks Cup final after winning five out of six matches during a regional qualifier held in Portsmouth.

The team won matches against Crawley, Brighton, Reading, Southampton and Southend to become the first Oxford team to qualify for the competition’s national final.

It comes less than four years after the football club’s official charity officially launched Premier League Kicks in Oxfordshire. The programme is free for male and female participants and uses the power of football to inspire young people to reach their true potential.

Nationally, over a half-a-million football-mad youngsters have engaged with Premier League Kicks since its launch in 2006, with former participants including Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Declan Rice and Wilfried Zaha.

Mark Thomas, Social Inclusion Lead at Oxford United in the Community, said: “Representing the Oxford United badge is not something every player in our county has the opportunity to do.

“So, for our girls’ team to pull on the U’s shirt and qualify for a major competition final on the same day was a real treat for our Oxford Premier League Kicks participants.

“Results are always secondary at this level, with our primary focus on creating positive and fulfilling experiences for participants. But winning the regional event was a great achievement and everyone is looking forward to final at St George’s Park this summer.”

Funded through the Premier League Charitable Fund, Premier League Kicks is delivered by Oxford United in the Community’s team of coaches in locations across the county during term time.

Sessions blend workshops with social action campaigns and training to support the provision of football, enhance physical and mental wellbeing, and support young people with challenges they might face.

Mark added: “The sad reality is, not every young person living in Oxfordshire will be able to access training and playing opportunities due to cost, equipment and geographical barriers they might face.

“Premier League Kicks aims to bring people together and develop positive and supportive relationships with likeminded people and is delivered as part of our work to inspire happier, healthier and better-connected communities.”

Premier League Kicks sessions are held in Oxford and Banbury, with sessions coming soon to Abingdon and Witney.
Male and female players of all abilities are welcome. Those interested can find out more information on how to join by emailing plkicks@oufc.co.uk.