Anger at age ban for girls in foot­ball

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By KIRSTEN BEACOCK

A CHAM­PI­ONSHIP win­ning ju­nior foot­baller has been forced out of her team - just be­cause she is a girl.

Mil­lie Hop­kisson (11) has been left dev­as­tated af­ter Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion share­hold­ers in London ruled that mixed foot­ball now has to end at 11 and not 13 as had pre­vi­ously been the case un­der a pi­lot scheme.

De­spite star­ring in last sea­son’s Peter­bor­ough Un­der 11 league tri­umph for her team March Soc­cer School, Mil­lie has had to leave her team-mates be­hind, as well as her dream of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller.

Like Par­min­der Na­gra and Keira Knight­ley in the film Bend it Like Beck­ham, at­tack­ing mid­fielder Mil­lie just wants to play.

The Leverington Com­mu­nity Pri­mary School pupil, said: “I love play­ing foot­ball and I re­ally like my team as they are re­ally good friends. It’s un­fair I can’t play with them any more be­cause I am a girl.”

The na­tional FA has been al­low­ing girls to play in mixed teams for three years, as part of a trial. But – de­spite get­ting the green light from the FA Ex­ec­u­tive and FA Coun­cil – a res­o­lu­tion to amend rules to of­fi­cially ex­tend mixed foot­ball to the un­der 13 age group was not ap­proved by the FA Share­hold­ers.

Mil­lie’s par­ents and teenage brother Jake, who live in Leverington, near Wis­bech, are fully sup­port­ive of their daugh­ter’s love of foot­ball and are back­ing her stand.

Dad Mark said: “We want our chil­dren to be the best they can and it will mean Mil­lie hav­ing to drop down a level, which doesn’t seem fair as she is de­vel­op­ing so well. I can’t un­der­stand why.

“How, if they have done this three year sur­vey and Cambs FA want it, and most peo­ple want it, could the share­hold­ers have voted against it?

“The prob­lem is that for three years girls have been able to play un­til they are older and now, at the last minute, they have can­celled it – it’s not right and not fair on Mil­lie and other girls,”

The fam­ily are send­ing letters protest­ing at the move and have the back­ing of Mil­lie’s team coach at March Soc­cer School, Paul Hussey, who said: “I find it dis­grace­ful and sex­ist that girls un­der the age of 13 are now be­ing told they can­not play mixed foot­ball. Mil­lie is a great as­set and it would be a dis­ad­van­tage if Mil­lie is forced to leave the team just for be­ing a girl.”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of Cam­bridgeshire FA Roger Paw­ley said they too would be fight­ing the de­ci­sion, hav­ing voted in favour of mixed teams. He said: “I feel sorry for Mil­lie, she was ob­vi­ously good enough to play with the boys.”

The nation FA have con­firmed they will be try­ing to es­tab­lish the rea­sons why some share­hold­ers voted against the pro­posal and may over­turn the de­ci­sion in the fu­ture.

In the mean­time, fe­male play­ers aged over 11 must now join a lo­cal girls’ foot­ball team or at­tend tri­als for a FA Girls’ Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence to con­tinue play­ing. De­tails of these lo­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties can be found by con­tact­ing your lo­cal County Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

Pic­ture: BEN DAVIS

SENT OFF: An FA rul­ing means Mil­lie Hop­kisson (above left) must leave her boys’ foot­ball team, leav­ing her and (from left) brother Jake, dad Mark and mum Jodie dis­ap­pointed. (METP-31-05-10BD100, METP-31-05-10BD103)

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