Magpies U13s could provide trophy-winning glory in Stubbington Youth FC’s 50th anniversary season

Stubbington Youth FC’s 50th anniversary celebrations have been subdued because of the pandemic.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 11:04 pm
Stubbington Youth U13s Magpies who have reached the final of the Hampshire Girls League Plate. Picture: AMG PICTURES / ANDREW GRIFFIN.

But the club’s U13s Magpies have fired up the club’s end-of-season celebrations by reaching the Hampshire Girls Youth League’s Plate Cup final this weekend, writes ANDREW GRIFFIN.

The team, managed by the club’s new vice-chairman Samantha Mann, were the first all-girls team formed at the club just three years ago, and have now reached their first final.

Mann has helped the latest expansion at Stubbington, whose membership has grown by more than 400 per cent over the last decade.

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Samantha said: ‘It has been an amazing journey, watching the Magpies grow as a team.

‘Having started with only four players, who were originally in my husband’s mixed team, we had what felt like a crazy idea of forming Stubbington’s first all-girl team.

‘After advertising for players, we ran our first training session where 12 girls turned up and we have not looked back.

‘Not only are they a team but they are a very close group of friends, who have individually grown in confidence. I am very proud of them all.’

Stubbington became an FA Wildcats centre two years ago and now have four all-girls teams

Having got the Magpies off the ground in 2018, Stubbington applied to become an FA Wildcats centre.

Since its launch in 2019, they have managed to recruit enough players to fill three more all-girls teams.

Samantha explained: “Wildcats is a girls-only centre that has created a safe fun and enjoyable environment where they can begin their football journey.

‘We have been supported by the Hampshire FA with ideas, merchandise and funding.

Stubbington Youth U18 celebrate winning the Mid Solent Youth League U18 Junior A Cup final in 2019. Picture: ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES.

‘By running these sessions not only do we grow female participation, it has also helped changed the culture in the club.

‘We now have around 100 girls playing for Stubbington in the Hampshire Girls Youth League or at the Wildcats centre.

‘We also have seven female coaches at the club.’

Stubbington Youth FC spokesman Andrew Griffin said: ‘We had hoped for some visible public celebrations for our 50th anniversary in 2020/21 – but the lockdowns and restrictions on playing football have hampered us.

‘However, I cannot think of a better way for the club to celebrate its 50th birthday than to see a whole new generation of players being able to take up the game.

‘As well as the new girls teams, we also have a thriving Soccer Tots programme for the U6s and U5s.

‘We have never been close to having a club of this size ever since it was created in 1970.

‘The club was close to folding just 15 years ago, but our former chairman Barra Houldershaw put a structure in place and we invested time in our mini-soccer teams that are now progressing all the way through the Mid Solent League – via 9-a-side and 11-a-side youth teams - and now into men’s football.

‘We have recruited 27 volunteers, even during the pandemic, and created two new U7s teams.

‘Our U18s won the Mid Solent Cup two years ago – our first major honour in a long time.

‘But we are not guided by results at Stubbington. It is all about player development, and backing the FA’s Respect and We Only Do Positive campaigns – playing football in a fun and safe environment.

‘Judging from our massive growth from just six teams in 2011/12 to 23 in 2020/21, it seems to be popular with the kids and parents.

‘Sadly, we have had to turn away some players who have asked to join us over the last couple of months because our teams are all full.’

The club are interested in hearing from anyone who played for Stubbington, particularly in the 1970s, and is collecting photographs with a view to creating an online gallery celebrating the club’s 50 years in grassroots football.