ST MARY’S Oswaldtwistle will fly the flag for Hyndburn and Ribble Valley in the Lancashire School Games after they were crowned girls champions.
The super Saints beat Pendle Primary in the final to book their place in the county finals which will be held in Blackpool next month.
And for the Saints, it was a case of hard work paying off.
The school has forged links with Accrington Girls and Ladies FC who have delivered coaching sessions at the school while many of the girls have joined the club.
A total of nine teams, split in to two groups, took part in the competition which was held at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Group A saw Pendle unbeaten and keen interest in one of their players from the Blackburn Rovers scout that had come to watch – unfortunately, she has already been signed by Burnley!
St Marys Langho put up a good fight though and were second in the group.
Group B was dominated by St Marys Oswaldtwistle and St Michael and ST John were second in the group.
Pendle beat St Michael and St John and ST Marys Oswaldtwistle beat St Marys Langho to ensure both group winners met in the final.
In what proved to be a tense final, both teams created chances at each end.
St Mary’s took the lead with a goal from Charlie Chadwick and doubled their lead when Blackburn Rovers Girls player Ella Whitaker struck from a tight angle.
Saints teacher Andrew Bentley was thrilled for his side.
“The girls were fantastic and were delighted to win,” he said. “The standard of football throughout the competition was superb and any number of schools could have come out on top.
“We took three teams to the event and most of the girls had never played competitively before so to see them enjoying themselves was wonderful.
“Thanks must go to Beth Hibbert and the coaches from our link club Accrington Girls and Ladies FC. They have been delivering sessions in school which has created enthusiasm and also give any players who wish to, the opportunity to continue playing outside of school.
“The girls can’t wait to represent Hyndburn in the Lancashire School Games alongside our Year 3/4 Tennis Team.”
The winning team, captained by Natacha Ireland, included Alex Lund and Katie Chadwick – who all played for Accrington Girls and Ladies – Ella Whittaker, on the books at Blackburn Rovers, and Evi Crookston and Charlie Chadwick.
Hyndburn and Ribble Valley School Games Organiser Jane Johnson praised players for their sportsman ship and thanked young leaders from the host school.
She said: “The standard of play was extremely high with all teams showing great sportsmanship.
“I wish the two qualifying teams the best of luck in the level three event in Blackpool in July.
“Thanks must go to the Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Leaders who refereed the event and to Accrington Girls and Ladies Football Club who came to present the prizes and ensure that the girls knew how they could continue to play football if they wished.”