Starlets Bloom in Summer
28 June 2018
It’s been a busy couple of months since the end of the league season, with plenty of summer tournaments to keep the girls playing. Indeed for those of our teams that only started playing regularly in January, it’s been a great way to continue their development with lots of opportunity to get valuable match experience.
From Knebworth to St. Albans, Shillington to Woburn, we’ve seen some fantastic performances from all of our girls over the course of the summer. Our U11 Navy side continue to be consistent performers reaching a number of finals again this year, but it's been the progress of those newer teams that has really stood out.
Not that there haven’t been tough moments. Our U11 Golds endured a torrid first half in one particular game at St. Albans that would have seen many team's spirit broken. Instead of letting their heads go down they put on an battling second half display, showing a level of determination and commitment that would make any coach proud.
And slowly but surely, tournament by tournament, you could see that their confidence was growing. The U11 Golds produced a series of fine displays to top their group in the Knebworth tournament and were unfortunate to suffer a narrow defeat to their Navy counterparts in the all-Starlets semi final that followed.
A week later they went a step further to reach the final at Buntingford, only to suffer the agony of losing on penalties, having twice fought back from behind in what was a thrilling contest. One thing's for sure, these girls have bags of resolve and have developed an amazing team spirit that will hold them in good stead for next season.
That tournament was already notable as the first one where the whole Starlets family were all out together, with different age groups having played at different times of day in many of the previous events. This happy coincidence made it all the more special that we could all be there to see what was to happen next.
Our U8 and U9 teams had been drawn in the same group, meeting each other in their first game of the day. Both played brilliantly well to qualify from the league stage, although unfortunately this meant they would ultimately face other in a tight semi final that went to extra time and then penalties.
Despite some frayed nerves (and tears from their little goalkeeper), it was to be the U8s who would progress. The final was a tense affair that was hard to watch at times when you could see just how much it meant to all involved, but sure enough they kept working and secured the title with a fabulous late winner.
The emotion at the final whistle was truly something to behold. These, we should remember, are girls who had only played their first proper games in January, who always had huge smiles on their faces despite regularly going down to heavy defeats and who’d waited half the season just to score their first goal.
Seeing their skill on the pitch steadily growing to match the effort and determination they’ve shown all year is surely one of the biggest highlights of our club’s short history. To have gone from absolute beginners to tournament winners in little more than six months is an incredible achievement and we could not be more proud.
Huge congratulations to them and indeed all of our little Starlets on their performances this season. It’s been a real pleasure to watch you play. Bring on 2018/19!