Anger at age ban for girls in football
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.
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)