ACCRINGTON Girls and Ladies FC are preparing for a surge of budding soccer stars as they hope women will be inspired by the UEFA Women's Football Championships which take place in the North West in June.
The European Champion-ships will feature eight teams - England, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and title holders Germany who will play their games at Ewood Park, City of Manchester Stadium, Deepdale and more.
In goal for England could be Rachel Brown, the former St Christophers pupil and ex- Accrington girls player, who is president of the club and they are hopeful they will watch Rachel help England to glory - and inspire more of their girls to aspire to playing for their country.
Accrington Ladies and Girls FC was started in 1991 at Hyndburn Sports Centre by two women and current organiser, treasurer, fund-raiser and jack of all trades Bev Watson was 14 at the time.
"When I was 18, I took over to stop it disbanding and I am glad I did now that I have seen how far we have come," said Bev.
She linked up with current club vice chairman Joanne Cooney in 2002, who was running two girls teams at Under 11 and Under 14 level.
And since then the Livingstone Road club has gone from strength to strength - they currently have around 80 girls and 30 ladies. The ladies play in the North West Regional League, the Open Age team play in the Lancashire League while, from Under 14s to Under 10s, they play in local leagues.
And there has been success with the ladies winning the Third Division title in 1995 and they reached the cup final in 2002.
The Under 11s won their league and the Thornton Cleveleys tournament in their first season in 2002.
There are 11 qualified coaches at the club but they are encouraging the current girls to take coaching badges to cope with the influx they hope will come with the European championships.
"We feel that the European Championships are going to have a massive impact and we are already gearing up to accomodate new players by seeing more people through their level One coaching badge," continued Bev.
"And we are honoured to have Rachel involved in the club. I played in the same team as her when she was 12 to 14 and she has always kept an interest in us as we were her first club. But it isn't all about football.
"We also hope to become involved in other sports and we hope to improve our facilities - perhaps eventually having an astroturf and club house."
Anyone interested in the club can call Joanne on 01254 773808 or Bev on 01254 389764.
Meanwhile, the ladies Open Age team lost 4-0 at Denton this weekend. They did not have many chances but never gave up and, at times, defended well.
AGSA Under 14s were unlucky to lose to the league leaders Burnley having led 2-1 at half-time through goals from Becky France and Hannah Derbyshire.However Burnley came back in the second half as Accrington tired to win 5-2.