'It's like a movie' - From a ‘squad’ of two to Jill Scott Cup winners, New Silksworth’s amazing football journey

A ‘football fairy tale’ has seen a primary school lift the Jill Scott Cup. New Silksworth Academy won the trophy after defeating Fulwell Juniors in the final.

The seven-a-side tournament is named in honour of the England and former Sunderland player, currently starring at the Women’s European Championships. It is open to girls in Years 4, 5 and 6 in the Sunderland area.

New Silksworth’s team is run by PE lead Peter Harding. But when he tried to assemble a squad early this year only two girls turned up for the trials.

Yet he persevered and entered the school in the tournament anyway.

Jill Scott Cup winners New Silksworth Academy celebrate with the trophy at the Beacon of Light.

He worked to encourage more girls to play and was rewarded when interest was stirred by Silksworth’s mixed Year Four team, featuring one girl, reaching the County Cup final.

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He also persuaded girls to play football in the school yard, fostering a love of the game and helping build a girls’ squad which would go on to lift the cup at the Beacon of Light.

The final saw Fulwell Junior School, Jill Scott’s old school, beaten 2-1 with goals from Isla and goalkeeper Phoebe. But it was a real team effort.

Jill Scott playing for England at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France

Unfortunately Peter was “devastated” to miss the final stages due to heatstroke, but delighted to see colleague Amar Purewal guide the girls to victory on July 13.

Peter said: “At the start of this year I held football trials and only two girls, Isla and Saffron, turned up. So I tried to push football in the yard and get more girls playing.

"I entered us in the competition anyway, because we needed to be represented.

“We came second in the qualifying round and we weren’t even sure we’d got through. So we went home a bit sad about it. We’d played really well and just dropped one result. But then we got an email say we’d qualified.

“It’s like a movie. The hard work they put into the practice and the build-up paid off. I spoke in assembly and said they’re leading the way for girls’ football.

“It’s nice to see them inspiring others and I can see more and more girls playing football in the yard because they’ve been inspired by this group. I want to see them continue to push and get more girls involved.”