SOLENT Junior School’s girls’ team have emulated their England’s Lionesses heroines after being crowned Hampshire champions.
Channelling the Women’s World Cup fever that gripped the nation, the inspired Portsmouth side showed nerves of steel to claim county glory in the most dramatic of circumstances.
I am really proud of all of the girls – this is my greatest achievement in sportSolent Junior School PE co-ordination Sian Smith
Facing familiar opponents and friendly rivals Herne School, from Petersfield, it was left to a dreaded penalty shootout to deliver the prestigious Hampshire Games title in Aldershot.
PE co-ordinator and year six teacher Sian Smith, who introduced a girls football team to Solent just three years ago, was delighted with her team’s achievement.
She said: ‘I am really proud of all of the girls.
‘Three years ago I came to this school and they didn’t have a girls football team, so I set one up.
‘And this is my greatest achievement in sport.
‘None of our matches before had ever been determined on penalties.
‘A couple of our girls who play football outside of school stepped up first and took some penalties.
‘But then it went to sudden-death.
‘Our girl who took the final penalty was so nervous.
‘She has never played outside of school and her kick may not have been the strongest but it went straight through the goalkeeper’s legs which sealed the win for us.’
For Smith, the narrow victory was made sweeter by virtue of the fact that it arrived against a team Solent had previously failed to beat.
She said: ‘It was against a team (Herne School) we have played against several times before and never beaten.
‘So afterwards, it was nice for us to be able to say to them: “You are a really good team and you beat us last time but we beat you this time”!’
– JEFF MARSHMAN