To coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we spoke to the Junior School’s Under 11 Girls Football Team about why they love playing the beautiful game and how they felt about representing Tottenham Hotspur in a recent tournament. We also find out from Mario Noto, our new Acting Director of Sport and Exercise, why girls football is going from strength to strength.
Emilia and Clover – how long have you been playing football?
Emilia – At home, since I was about 3 years old and I also played with an all-boys club.
Clover – Yes, same as me. I used to play against my brother in the garden and sometimes with my Dad and my cousins because they’re all boys.
Both – we’ve been playing as a team at Highgate over the past year.
Mario – how are the Highgate girls’ football teams doing at the moment?
It’s been a really successful year. We put in our development plan to be able to increase the opportunities for girls’ football as it’s one of the biggest growth sports in the UK. We created a fixture list, extra training and we integrated with mixed teams. We’ve got some really talented girls here, especially under 11’s and under 13’s, and it’s really giving them the confidence to go and play, be involved in competitions and express themselves.
Alison and Teagan – what do you think the benefits are of playing football?
Alison – I think it helps with collaboration and teamwork. Sometimes, if you’re tired or stressed if you just kick a ball around it really helps.
Teagan – You get to have a fun time with your friends and playing a sport that you love. It’s a nice sport to play, even though it can be quite rough, you can show off your creativity. There’s lots of different attributes to it, so you can be really skilful and strong. There’s always space for everyone because there’s defence, striker, mid-field.
Kyra and Evie – what do you like most about playing football?
Evie – I like being part of a team and everyone encouraging each other. And I love being in goal because I like the pressure sometimes as well and it’s really cool when I save the ball.
Kyra – Playing as a team and just how enjoyable playing football is.
Mario – which competitions have the teams been in recently?
They qualified for the Haringey tournament and all the local schools played and they had the opportunity to represent Tottenham Hotspur at the Premier League Stars at Elland Road stadium in Leeds. It was a great experience for them staying overnight, which is part of the journey as well, integrating with their teammates and having that experience. We had a bit of a tough group and we actually didn’t make it through to the quarter finals and semi-finals, but the eventual winners, Chelsea were in our group and we only missed out by a point.
Following on from that, they qualified for the Under 11’s ISFA National Finals at St George’s Park to play against the best 16 independent schools in the country. Another great experience, unfortunately under 11’s just missed out on going through to the semi-finals by a point but the under 13’s did really well and qualified as runners up and then went on to the semi-final, only losing out by one goal to Forest.
Isabel and Tyra – which teams do you support?
Isabel – So I don’t really support a team, but my brother would kick me out of the house if I didn’t support Arsenal!
Tyra – I kind of support two teams, Arsenal and then I also support Bayern Munich because my family are German.
Under 11’s – How did you feel about representing Tottenham Hotspur at the Premier League Stars tournament?
Alison – I thought I’d be nervous, but then you start playing and you don’t really notice the crowd actually.
Teagan – We played well in the actual matches, but the results weren’t as good as we hoped. Overall, it was a really good experience. We have definitely improved, that was one of our first tournaments and learning how to play quickly, releasing the ball and get goals quickly.
Mario – why do you think girls’ football is becoming so successful, is it the profile of the Lionesses that’s had a knock-on effect?
I think that’s part of it, it’s still got a long way to go, but I think it’s the opportunity, more girls are playing football in the playground, we’ve got our after school and lunch clubs where they’re getting more involved, it’s just more accessible to girls and more are having the opportunity to be able to play continuously and raising the standard and the level of football.
Finally, what are your predictions for the Women’s World Cup?
Isabel – I think England will do quite well actually because they won the Euro Championships.
Mario – I think England have got a really good chance, though they’re missing some key players, but if I had to put a bet on it I would say quarter finals. And I would probably say France or Germany are the teams that stand out to me. But it’s a tournament football so you never know.