Football: Shamblers girls looking to build on inaugural success
SHAMBLERS will be hoping to build on an emotional first title success when the Sentinel Girls' Festival of Football returns in May.
Female football was included for the first time last season after 119 years of Sentinel football competitions.
Leek CSOB, Shamblers and Bradwell Belles became the first champions of an event which is held at under-10s, under-12s and under-13s level.
Teams can now enter this year's festival, which will take place on Saturday, May 13. The festival will again be held at Wellbeing Park, the home of Stone Dominoes FC.
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Last year's event was a special occasion for Shamblers, who won the under-12s competition.
The team was set up at the start of last season with the help of Paul Koumi, the grandfather of captain Beth Grice.
Mr Koumi died, aged 59, last March, and the team paid tribute to him after Grice skippered Shamblers to a 2-0 win over Vale Juniors in the final.
The Sentinel victory helped the Shamblers team win the "newcomers of the year" trophy in the Sports across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent awards organised by the BBC.
They were filmed on Midlands Today to complete an excellent first season for the girls.
Manager Justin Shackleston is looking forward to bringing his team back to try to win the under-13s Sentinel trophy.
He said: "Winning the Sentinel Festival helped us attract players and was a springboard for our team.
"The Sentinel Cup has a long history and is the most prestigious competition in junior football in this area. So to win the first-ever Sentinel Girls' Festival was fantastic.
"The venue at Stone was absolutely brilliant and the event was really well organised.
"Win or lose, it's great to be in a competition which gives such good publicity to girls' football.
"It is a great game and hopefully this publicity will encourage more girls to take up the sport."
Sentinel Charity Football Competitions Committee member Clive Dean said: "Running a girls' event had been on the cards for us for a while, particularly with the growth of girls' and women's football.
"You never know how well the first year will go, but we were delighted with the response.
"The facilities at Stone Dominoes are very good and the approach of the teams was excellent.
"They all played the game in the right spirit and were a credit to the festival.
"The Sentinel football competitions are extremely prestigious in this area and we were delighted to add this new event to them."
Organisers were hoping to break even in the first year of the event, so were delighted that the festival made a £250 profit, all of which goes to charity. This year's event will be sponsored by R&M Welding.
Leek CSOB won the under-10s section last season after edging a nail-biting final against Sandford Hill Allstars.
The game was goalless before Leek triumphed 3-1 on penalties.
The under-14s section, which has been changed to under-13s this year, was won by Bradwell Belles. They beat Stoke Town Ladies 4-2.
Entry for this year's festival is just £20 per team. To enter, contact Phil Spooner on 07800 806957 or email email@example.com