The final of the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (Under-12s) is due to take place on Sunday 6 March 2022 between Bognor Regis Town and Worthing United.
Bognor Regis Town vs. Worthing United
Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final (Under-12s)
Date: Sunday 6 March 2022
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
This Sunday’s final is a game of long-standing competitive rivals as Bognor Regis Town of the Sussex Women & Girls Football League face Worthing United of the Saywell International Football League.
It’s a first season in competitive football for both these sides and for Bognor manager, Matt Swanson, he believes it is the ultimate reward.
“They're really excited, they haven't been in this kind of situation before. Got a few injuries that we're a bit worried about but other than that we're all looking forward to it.
“I think it's real reward for all the hard work they've put in. This is our first year playing competitive football and so to get to a final is a great achievement.
“The main thing is that they enjoy the day, they do their best and they get out of it what they want to get get out of it.”
For players of their age, it can be a daunting prospect playing on the big stage, but Matt believes his girls will rise to the occasion. What’s more, he’s relishing playing an old rival.
“I think the girls will be fine it's just emphasising that the game is there to be enjoyed. I'm sure most of them will do that. It's a new experience but one they'll look back on in years to come.
“We know it's going to be a tough game against Worthing, we've played them a lot of times, and they are a very good team.
“Since Under-9s we've played Worthing quite regularly in friendlies because we've been quite evenly-matched teams which they were struggling with as they are particularly good side.
“They decided last season to join the boys league because they were winning most games reasonably well. From what I understand that's gone pretty well for them.
“We played them in a friendly earlier in the season and our development teams regularly play each other so we're always in contact with them.
“They recorded a couple of our games recently with VEO so I know they do a lot of analysis. We will be looking to come up with a tactical plan to nullify their threat.”
Lastly, he told us of how his girls have adapted to the competitive stage: “They're a fun and friendly bunch that all get on well together. They've enjoyed the switch to 9v9 and adapted to it very well.
“They take each game as it comes and don't take too much attention to the league table. It'll be a change for them going to Lancing and the razzmatazz that surrounds it.”
These are thoughts echoed by Worthing United manager, James Glover, who thinks his side are made for these big games.
“They've taken it very much in their stride to be honest, I think I'm far more nervous than they are! They've had two or three years of huge success so not much fazes them. We've had big tournaments, big games, and I always feel far more nervous than they do.
“Before the semi-final, I wasn't quite at sleepless night point, but my nerves were going! Throughout that game they were very confident, very professional.
“It's the first time they will have played in front of such a big crowd, they've been to lots of tournaments with lots of people, but this will be the first time in a proper stadium, proper crowd and cameras.
“It's the first time Worthing United have had a County Cup Final. We have a very special group of girls, four of which play for the county and this is the next step for them.
“They've always been very focused these girls. We have a team in the girls' league and a team in the boys' league. That has definitely sharpened their mentality.”
James also added his delight to how much girls football has grown in Sussex.
“Four years ago, we had one girls in the club; now we have an under-14s side top of the county, an under-12s squad with 20 or so girls in it.
“All the way through the club we have big squads of girls because more and more of them are falling in love with football and getting the bug earlier. But also, sticking with it.
“There's previously been a drop off in girls’ participation when they get to a certain age but I think that's changing now. I think we're really at that turning point now.”
Lastly, James tells us further of the positive competitiveness they have had with Bognor: “I have a really positive relationship with Matt at Bognor, we've played them lots over the years. He also is one of the league reps so in general we have a lot of contact.
“Bognor have been our closest rivals in terms of competitiveness over the last few years, we've played a lot of games, a lot of closely-fought games. There's never been a situation where one team runs away with it and we've had some really good games with them.
“It was getting to the point with the girls where we needed more competitive games than just Bognor. The move to the boys’ league was just to test the girls a bit further.
“Playing against boys has added an extra level of physicality which they previously weren't used to. It's been a big jump but some of these girls have older brothers, so they're used to that rough treatment.”
Entry prices for the final are as follows (cash and card accepted):
£4.00 Adult (17+)
£2.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (Under-12s) please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547