North Devon Schools U9 Girls Football Final
Southmead girls take the North Devon title and head to Newton Abbot for the county cup and a chance to be crowned the best school team in Devon 2024.
Southmead’s Year 3 and 4 girls' football team headed off to Kingsley School in Bideford with a spring in their step.
Having won the local Braunton-area tournament at Kingsacre back in October, they had qualified for the North Devon finals, where they’d be up against the other winning teams from the local area. A dedicated and hardworking squad of girls had trained after school every week in preparation for the final.
Southmead were fast out of the blocks in the first game, striker Bella-Blue scoring early against South Molton with an unstoppable drive. Before they had time to recover, Maggie had made it two. With Martha providing width and incisive runs on the right, Freya providing rock-solid goalkeeping in front of Zephine and Florence, there was no way back for South Molton.
The second game provided a much sterner test, as Woolacombe put us under some early pressure with strong physical play and quick passing. But as the game grew, it was Southmead asking all the questions, going close on a number of occasions. Gracie's and Lou Lou's first appearances gave us an injection of energy and a goal felt inevitable but Woolacombe weathered the storm and Southmead had to settle for a point that saw us top the group.
Into the finals, we faced up to the two other group winners - Ilfracombe and Kingsacre - to see who would win the ultimate prize. Ilfracombe were the first test and we were ready for it. Piper, our sole Year 3 representative, made her debut and shone with her bravery and smart decision-making. Left winger Lana also stood out with her speed down the flank, her chasing back and her snappy passing. Our forward duo of Bella-Blue and Maggie once again caught fire, each of them grabbing two goals in a convincing 4-0 win.
Our final game, against Kingsacre, carried echoes of the Woolacombe match. Southmead pushed and pushed for a goal, with the ball barely leaving the Kingsacre half. But through a combination of bad luck and excellent goalkeeping, our goal never came. And when Kingsacre made a smart, long throw on the halfway line, they took full advantage; their striker burying an unstoppable shot to take a 1-0 win against the run of play.
But all was not lost, Kingsacre would still need to beat a strong Ilfracombe side to take the trophy and we watched on nervously then with hope, as Ilfracombe took a deserved lead and held onto it, meaning we were champions thanks to our strong goal difference.
The team, coached by Mrs Smith, Mrs Frazer and me, celebrated wildly at the presentation, our first ever North Devon trophy and the chocolate-fuelled partying, singing and dancing continued all the way back to Braunton.
Having already made history, how far can this team of fearless lionesses go? Now, the county cup awaits.