Sussex Girl's Under-12s Challenge Cup Final HERO

Sussex Girls’ Challenge Cup Final (Under-12s) Preview

Words by Girvane Bila
Lindfield Juniors vs. Crawley Wasps

The final of the Sussex Girls' Challenge Cup (Under-12s) is due to take place on Sunday 7 May 2023 between and Lindfield Juniors and Crawley Wasps.

Lindfield Juniors vs. Crawley Wasps
Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final (Under-12s)
Date: Sunday 7 May 2023
Kick-off: 10:30am
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, BN15 9AX

After a tight semi-final against Lewes Juniors, Lindfield Juniors prevailed on penalties to advance to their first County Cup Final in 15 years.

Their journey with manager Glenn Watts started with him volunteering for a girl’s football session just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that point, the club only had one girls’ team and, despite the pandemic, the passion for girls’ football continued to grow. 

The increasing number of girls that wanted to play saw the under-12 girls’ team built, with Matt Stuart and Matt Costin alongside Watts.

“We were very disjointed for the first season and a half because of the pandemic,” said Watts.

“But we kept growing. Girls kept telling their friends that they were enjoying themselves and now we’re at the point where for our age group, we have 28 girls signed up for under-12s and there are now age groups above and under-12. 

“We now have seven or eight girls’ teams, so it’s really exploded.

“In terms of how close that match was, that was the toughest. That was a very cagey 0-0 and we went through on penalties, fortunately. Our strikers missed the first two penalties, but our defenders got us out of a hole on that one.”

Lindfield’s run to the final saw them pick up a number of impressive results, even before their semi-final victory.

A 6-2 win over Crawley Down Gatwick set the tone for a strong set of performances, with an 8-0 win over Woodingdean Wanderers following in the next round, before they capped it off with 3-2 victory against Saltdean United.

However, Lindfield are going to have to be on top form if they are going to come away with a victory against their opponents, Crawley Wasps.

Competing in the Development Group D division of the Mid-Sussex Youth Football League, a league with both boys’ and girls’ teams, under manager Dave Heaton, the Wasps have excelled. 

Indeed, in the league they finished the campaign with only three defeats. 

This kind of success proves that girls can play football competitively with boys, dispelling stereotypes and paving the way. It has even seen opposition fans be in support of them.

“We’re in a boy’s league at the moment but I’ve never had so much positive feedback from opposition managers and parents as I have done in the last season towards the girls”, Heaton said.

“We’ve had parents come up to us and say, ‘I know my son is playing against you, but we’ve been rooting for your girls the whole way through’. 

“I don’t like people saying your girls play fantastic football. I just see them as footballers, not girl or boy footballers, just footballers.

“They are at equal level, and they have proven that this season for what they have achieved.”

Like Lindfield, Crawley Wasps kick-started their tournament in spectacular fashion by beating Bognor Regis Town 9-0. This was then followed by an even more impressive performance in the second round, defeating Southwick 14-0. 

Whilst a 2-0 semi-final victory against Eastbourne Borough booked their place in the final, arguably their most important victory was against Pevensey & Westham Juniors in the quarters. 

Crawley won the game thanks to a 90th minute winner, which sparked great scenes amongst the team and staff. This moment came full circle for Heaton as one of his first games as Wasps’ manager was not just an ordinary loss against Pevensey.

“One of my first games in charge, we lost 22-2 against Pevensey. The same team we beat in the quarter-final 1-0. At the time, we lost heavily but the girls still came off smiling and they knew it was all about playing football. They didn’t care,” Heaton said.

“Fast forward two-and-a-bit years, to go and get that winning goal in the last minute is a testament to the hard work and dedication they’ve put in over that time. 

“That’s not only a skill in sports but it’s also a life skill for them to take forward!”

Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):

£5.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£1.00 Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme

For further details about the Sussex Girls’ Challenge Cup (Under-12s) please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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