Haringey girls net gold at London Youth Games football tournament

Haringey celebrate winning the girls' football tournament at the London Youth Games

Haringey celebrate winning the girls' football tournament at the London Youth Games - Credit: LYG

Haringey youngsters struck gold at the London Youth Games girls' football tournament at Gunnersbury Sports Hub.

And north London neighbours Islington also made it through to the semi-finals, as some 200 pre-teen girls from 25 London boroughs took part in the event, days before the record-breaking 2022 UEFA Women's Euro finals began at Wembley.

Islington reached the semi-finals of the girls' football tournament at the London Youth Games

Islington reached the semi-finals of the girls' football tournament at the London Youth Games - Credit: LYG

Research from Women in Sport shows that only 14 per cent of girls aged 5-16 achieve recommended levels of physical activity, dropping to 10 per cent of girls aged 13-16. 

Sports competitions like London Youth Games are so important to help tackle this and keep young girls interested, inspired and motivated to keep taking part in sport.

The fun, inclusive competition aims to prevent girls from developing deep rooted negative attitudes towards sport and give girls a reason to keep playing.

Jon Whittingham, The FA’s Women’s Talent Technical Coach, said: "The London Youth Games is vital to help keep girls in sport at this age where they can drop out. We’ve got the Euros soon and what London Youth Games do is really important to give young people the opportunities that can be achieved through sport.

"Ultimately, we don’t want young people to feel like they haven’t got an opportunity to be involved in sport."

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Latest data shows only 19 per cent of secondary school girls in England played football once a week or more, compared to 45 per cent of secondary school boys in England, according to Sport England. 

With all eyes on the biggest Women’s Euros 2022, there’s even more importance on there being a greater number of opportunities for girls to take up football.

Haringey player Kaya Bomber added: "I think women’s football, especially the World Cup, has inspired me to get much better and more into football, and that’s led to me being at the London Youth Games right now. 

"Football makes me feel really happy, it’s an escape for me if I’m feeling bored or if I’m feeling down, it helps me feel better. My friends are my team so it’s both football and a social event."

The football event was part of the ‘Open Games’ in which young people who either live or go to school in a London borough can compete, in partnership with 33 London local authority members and proudly supported by Nike.

Islington player Sophie said: "This competition is fun because I get to play for my borough. Women don’t get recognised as much so it means I can do something for my community."

Hackney team manager Condi Al-Smith, a participant from 2015-18, added: "Tournaments like this have been really valuable for building the next generation. London Youth Games can be a great pathway to other opportunities. I’m sure that at least a handful of girls from this tournament will be in the Lionesses team in a couple of years time so it’s always good."

Camden team manager Blaine King said: "With the women’s Euros coming up, it’s good for these girls to see women football players that are really good and encourage them to try and replicate it. The events are really important to keep these girls playing football."