Didcot Girls’ School bid to be crowned national champions for the second successive year when they go for glory in the ESFA Under 14 PlayStation Schools’ Cup final at Reading’s Madejski Stadium next Tuesday.
The talented team, who captured the under 13 crown with a 3-2 victory over Thomas Estley Community College at Chesterfield FC 12 months ago, will do battle this time with Kibworth High School, Leicester.
The game forms part of a three-day festival of schools’ football finals at Reading, which explains the early kick-off time of 9.30am.
Team manager Leanne Walker is proud of the girls’ achievement in reaching the final two years’ running, and is backing them to lift the trophy again.
“We have shown real character throughout the cup run and the belief within the team that we can go on to take the title again is very strong,” she said.
“The girls have had to work extremely hard to reach the final and have shown they have the right mentality to compete at the very highest of standards.”
Didcot had to dig deep to secure their place in the showpiece decider by claiming a 3-2 victory after extra time at Highworth GS (Ashford, Kent) in the last four.
Walker added: “The team endured a real test of character to secure their place in the final, showing that they have the resilience and relentless attitude to match last year’s success.”
She believes the side contains some special talents who will go on to even greater things in the game.
“Every member of the squad has the highest expectations of themselves and each other and this is mirrored both on and off the pitch,” she said.
“These girls are a real privilege to work with on a daily basis and I firmly believe that one day soon we may see one or two of them in an England shirt.”
And the big day can’t come soon enough for the Didcot girls as Walker explained: “The team are extremely excited and privileged to be playing this year’s final at the Madjeski Stadium in what is set to be a thrilling national final.
“Many of the girls have been to the stadium to watch Reading FC play in both Premiership and Championship matches, and to be able to play at the stadium is a real honour for the girls, and will certainly create a memorable occasion for all involved.”
ROUTE TO THE FINAL
1st round: bye.
2nd round: Lord Williams’s (Thame) 1, Didcot 5.
3rd round: Didcot 7, Vandyke (Leighton Buzzard) 0.
4th round: John F Kennedy (Hemel Hempstead) 0, Didcot 7.
5th round: Kings’ School (Winchester) 0, Didcot 2.
6th round: Thomas Hardye (Dorchester) 2, Didcot 9.
Quarter-final: Wallingford 0, Didcot 4.
Semi-final: Highworth GS (Ashford, Kent) 2, Didcot 3 (aet).