Central Girls Football Academy side crowned UK champions

Central Girls Football Academy under-14s. Back row, from left, Kirstie McIntosh, Chelsea McEachran, Ellie Kane, Zoe Young, Fern Newbigging, Shaney McCabe, Orla King. Front row, from left, Lindsey Blues (captain), Kim McAlpine, Katia McKenna, Rhianne Ferguson and Erin Harrison.
Central Girls Football Academy under-14s. Back row, from left, Kirstie McIntosh, Chelsea McEachran, Ellie Kane, Zoe Young, Fern Newbigging, Shaney McCabe, Orla King. Front row, from left, Lindsey Blues (captain), Kim McAlpine, Katia McKenna, Rhianne Ferguson and Erin Harrison.

Central Girls Football Academy under-14s were crowned UK champions on Saturday after winning the All Cities Elite Shield in Leicester.

The club, based at Little Kerse, Grangemouth, won the invitational tournament which brings together the best youth teams from across Scotland, England and Wales to compete in a winner-takes-all competition.

Only clubs that have won a challenge cup or league title are invited to take part.

That was no barrier to the talented players at Central Girls Football Academy, who qualified after winning the central league title at under-15 level as well as the under-13s and under-15s league cup this season.

The All Cities Elite Shield (ACES) competition in Leicester brought together teams at various age groups from clubs such as Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Derby County.

All teams had landed trophies in their respective counties so competition level was high.

The straightforward format saw Central compete in a nine team league with the top four sides qualifying for the into semi-finals.

Central cruised through the group stages by finishing first - having played eight, won six, drew one and lost one.

The girls brushed aside Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the semi-finals, leaving the girls to avenge their only defeat from the group stages, against Manchester City.

A first minute goal from Chelsea McEachran was enough to secure the shield for the Central girls.

Coach Ian Dibdin said: “To be asked to attend was an honour and the effort of the players was immense and will live with in memories for a long time.

“To play well and perform is the first priority for all, but the Central Girls are winners and went out from the first whistle and as a coach I am proud to be associated with every one of them.

“Our coaching staff were fantastic, they all work tirelessly for the club and they deserve the success that comes with it.”

The winning squad comprised of Zoe Young, Erin Harrison, Lindsey Blues (captain), Kim McAlpine. Chelsea McEachran, Katia McKenna, Shaney McCabe. Fern Newbigging, Rhianne Ferguson, Kirstie McIntosh, Orla King and Ellie Kane.

The Academy will be represented throughout the summer at tournaments in Liverpool. Leven, Keele and Loch Lomond at various age groups.