Teeside gets Team GB treatment
Team GB Double Header
Women v Sweden (4pm)
Men v Brazil (7.45pm)
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough FC
Friday 20 July 2012
Ticket hotline 0844 499 1234
Live on BBC1
Talented young female footballers from two Teesside primary schools met members of the Team GB Women’s squad ahead of the their big Riverside clash with Sweden on Friday afternoon.
Just a week before they take centre-stage at the London 2012 Olympics, girls from St Pius X and St Edward’s schools enjoyed a visit from Team GB stars Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Rachel Yankey as the players took time out from their Olympic preparations.
North-east girls Jill and Steph were joined by Rachel, one of the most famous faces in the women’s game, to pass on some expert soccer tips and take part in a question-and-answer session with the football-crazy pupils.
The two schools recently met in the final of the Catholic Primary Schools Cup for all schools within the diocese stretching from Middlesbrough down to Hull, with Linthorpe-based St Edward’s emerging victors.
Park End-based St Pius X has a rich football heritage, as it is the former school of Middlesbrough FC chairman Steve Gibson and his lifelong friend and former footballer Chris Kamara.
FA qualified coaches from Cleveland Juniors helped Jill, Steph and Rachel put the children through their paces on the St Pius X pitches.
Sunderland-born midfielder Jill said: “It’s been fantastic to come back to the north-east – the place I love – and see so many girls enthusiastic about playing football.
“When I was at school, I had no choice but to play with the boys if I wanted to play football. But it’s fantastic that nowadays girls have so many opportunities to play the game through their schools and clubs like Cleveland Juniors.”
Jill, 25, plays for Everton Ladies and is a regular for England, while 24-year-old Durham girl Steph stars for Arsenal and England. The pair were previously team-mates at Sunderland, while Steph also had a spell with Leeds United. Jill’s Arsenal team-mate Rachel is the most-capped England player of all-time.
All three are expected to play a big Olympic role for Team GB women, who kick-off the Games when they play New Zealand at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Thursday 25 July. Taking place two days before the opening ceremony, the match will receive massive media focus as it will be the very first event of any sport at London 2012.
Team GB players have been training at Middlesbrough FC’s Rockliffe Park training ground, ahead of a Riverside double-header that will see the men face Brazil and the women meet Sweden.
St Pius X head teacher Catherine Percival said: “The Team GB games are an historic occasion for the town and it is so exciting for the children that we got our very own visit from members of the team before they go for gold at the Olympics.”
St Edward’s head teacher Colleen Short added: “The opportunity to be a small part of the 2012 Olympics and the visit to Teesside of Team GB is one that is sure to live with the girls for many years to come. A huge number of our girls love to play football so meeting Steph, Jill and Rachel was a huge thrill for them.”
An FA Charter Standard club, Cleveland Juniors started its to run girls’ teams last year after more than 25 years as a successful club for boys of all ages. Based at Mill Hill Playing Fields, in Acklam, the club run the area’s only free training academy.
Cleveland Juniors is looking to recruit more girls of any age or capability. Those interested should contact Keith Wright on 07825868375 or visit the club website here.
Cleveland Juniors are holding a free-to-enter fun day on Saturday 21 July, at Mill Hill Playing Fields, St Mary's Walk, Acklam, 11am-4pm including bouncy castle, rides and penalty shoot-out games, raffle, tombola and face painting.
Tickets for the double-header are still available directly from Middlesbrough FC. Call the ticket hotline on 0844 499 1234
The games will be the only chance for fans to see the men's and women's teams play before the Olympic football tournament begins five days later when Team GB women take on New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff , with the men’s team kicking off their competition against Senegal at Old Trafford (KO 8pm) on Thursday 26 July.