It is not often that Ross Juniors are mentioned in the same breath as some of London’s finest football clubs but this weekend they were. After qualifying from the Herefordshire region the Ross Juniors Under 10 girls progressed through the hard West Midlands Regional Finals to earn themselves a place last Saturday at the FA Futsal National Finals in Birmingham. Just 8 teams representing the geographical areas of England qualified for the finals, which was played at the Play Arena in Birmingham.
To get to the finals was a massive achievement and anything after that in the coaches and parents minds was a bonus. The girls though had other thoughts. They were places in a group of 4 with the top two guaranteed a semi final place. First up for Ross was Harvesters Girls FC from St Albans, Ross started brilliantly, there passing was a joy to watch and a marker had been put down with an emphatic 4-0 win , Bel scoring 2, Millie 1 and Eva 1. The second group match saw the girls pitted against Newhaven Girls FC, again the girls kept possession brilliantly and dominated the play with great passing football, the score finished 3-0 with Eva scoring 2 and Bel 1, the score line should have been much higher. The final group game saw the girls against Melksham Town FC of Wiltshire, both teams had won their group games so winner of this would top the group and in theory get an easier semi final. Ross again were exceptional and took the game to the opponents, Eva added another 2 goals and Amy with a 20 yard screamer scored 1, another 3-0 win and top of the group place secured.
Up to this point the morning had seen like a blur, on reflection all expectations had been met by reaching the National Finals, to come out of the group undefeated was now dreamland. Up next for the girls was West Ham Girls, Champions of London Futsal. The semi final was very different to the other games, Ross had less possession, the game was feisty and the refereeing was strict particularly on Ross. In games like this the goalie Hannah came into her own, her kicking had been exceptional all game and now she was blocking shot after shot. Ross took a 1-0 lead due to a fine finish from Millie, West Ham were soon back in it with a goal from a very harshly awarded penalty seen them pull level. The fouls were totting up and Ross were warned one more foul and a goal would be deducted as per Futsal rules. West Hams several assaults on Millie frustratingly were perceived by referees as fair but hard tackles. With 20 seconds to go and penalty’s looking likely, Millie burst through and coolly placed the ball under the advancing West Ham goalie to make it 2-1. The girls then held out, the un believable had happened Ross Juniors had beaten West Ham Girls 2-1 and were in the national futsal finals.
The final saw Ross play Melksham Town again as they had beaten Boldon CA Girls from South Shields on penalties to qualify. In another tense game Ross controlled the ball and the excellent Bel added 2 more to her total to make it 5 for the tournament and give Ross a 2-0 lead. Melksham though were not out of it and added a fine goal on the break to make it 2-1. The Ross defence of Lara and Izzy were tremendous and held out as the clock wound down, the whistle after an entirety went and Ross were FA national champions of England. To put this in achievement the Under 12 girls winners were Tottenham Hotspur, Under 14 AFC Wimbledon and Under 16 Crystal Palace, not bad company to keep!
Carl Roberts coach of the team reflected afterwards, “to qualify for the nationals was a dream but to come here win 5 out of 5 games, play teams from all over England, to beat West Ham and to win the Nationals seems unthinkable. The girls have been quality all year winning tournaments at Birmingham City, Bristol City, Monmouth, Tupsley and Dursely. They did not lose or draw a game in the league and won the HFA County Cup but to take this next step up is just incredible” This result has firmly put girls football in Ross on the map. The girls are now off to Holland for the Womens Euros before they regroup and aim for further success next season.