The final of the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-14s) is due to take place on Sunday 16 January 2022 between Lewes and Withdean Youth.
Lewes vs. Withdean Youth
Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final (under-14s)
Date: Sunday 16 January 2022
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
County Cup finals are finally back, and we open up with the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-14s) with Lewes facing Withdean Youth.
Lewes left the Sussex County Women & Girls Football League (SCWGFL) last season to test themselves in the Junior Premier League where they play the likes of West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur, and Crystal Palace.
Withdean Youth find themselves battling at the top of the Premier Division in the SCWGFL and have had a strong showing in the County Cup so far.
Lewes coach, Rob Palmer spoke of his excitement ahead of the final: “We're really, really looking forward to it! The players are as well of course. We've managed to play some teams that we wouldn't normally play and really enjoyed that. That different variety in teams is something we really enjoy.
“Some of our players have played against Withdean Youth in previous years but we don't know an awful lot about them. We know that to get to a final you've got to win your matches which they've done, so we're looking forward to the challenge.”
What’s more, he spoke passionately of the rise in women and girls’ football.
“We're very lucky to have Brighton in Sussex, which has helped with the popularity of football all round. Lewes is something different and I think it really appeals to a lot of young female players because they can fundamentally see their idols on the pitch, they're easily accessible.
“When players come to Lewes we tell them that this could potentially be the start of their journey towards professional football. It makes the conversations that me and my coaching partner, Tom, have with the team, a lot easier.
“The thing that's been missing for young girls in grassroots, is what happens after academies and when they get older. Whereas boys can finish with an under-18 side or 23s side and go to a Sunday or Saturday team but there hasn't always been enough of that for girls.
“We say to the players, if you work hard for yourselves and for us then the rewards are there for you.”
Finally, Rob speaks of his side’s chances in the final: “The old cliché is that we take every game as it comes and play the opposition in front of us, but I think what's important with these competitions is the variety of opposition like I've said but also meeting new coaches.
“We're more play-focused rather than results-focused and how the players are, their happiness is the thing that drives us forward.
“I said to them after the semi-final, 'I'm not going to say anything to you other than finals don't happen every day. This is where you focus.' But they've definitely got their eyes on the prize to be fair!”
In terms of Withdean Youth, it’s very much the same for coach, Chris Kyffin-Walton, who wants the day to be as special as possible for his players.
“We're very excited because this really is the cup to win isn't it, the County Cup. Not only are you coming up against teams in your league, but you’re also coming up against good teams that don't appear in your league, Lewes being an example.
“The girls understand how important the final is to them and their progression. My pre-match will be telling them to enjoy it, they understand where Lewes are but in cup finals, anything can happen. We also hope to bring as many people from Withdean Youth to act as a twelfth man! We want the day to be as special as possible for them.
It's been a great journey for Chris with his Withdean Youth side so far and the final is the icing on the cake.
“When we started, in the mid-tier divisions, it was a case of win a few, lose a few, but they started getting better and better. Whenever we went into cup games, we'd come up against teams in division one/premier division, and we were getting some good results.
“It just gave the girls so much good experience. We're a Premier Division team ourselves now and deserve to be there. I understand the ability of Lewes and the league they play in, so I know what a tough, stern test that is going to be for us.
“It will be part of my talk to remind the girls of playing the better teams when they were in the mid-tier divisions. When you play good sides, you concentrate and do the best that you can.
“Anything can happen on the day. It's 50% physical and 50% mental and if you get that attitude right on the day, it's key.”
Lastly, he spoke of his side’s route to the final and the confidence it has given them: “It's a good story our route to the final. The team to beat in our league is Cuckfield, very, very strong team and we lost to them first game of the season, 4-2, very close game.
“Then we drew them in the quarter-final and beat them 4-0, and deservedly so, a great game. We then had D&S Hastings in the semi-final who we'd also lost to earlier in the season and beat them 5-0.”
Entry prices for the final are as follows (cash and card accepted):
£3.00 Adult (17+)
£2.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
For further details about the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-14s) please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547