England women’s team hosted over 100 of the country’s next generation of female goalkeepers at St George’s Park.
103 budding goalkeepers aged between 10 and 16 made the trip to St George’s Park for a day that was all about celebrating the future of the goalkeeper position and its importance.
As well as watching the squad train, the girls were given a taste of what it’s like to be a Lioness as they took part in their own training sessions on the same pitches used by the England teams. The aspiring goalkeepers also had the chance to speak with their idols, as they were joined by the four senior Lioness goalkeepers – Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck, Hannah Hampton and Khiara Keating – for a meet and greet and Q&A session.
The girls invited to St George’s Park all attend Future Lioness Goalkeeping Centres, which were established by The FA to improve the goalkeeping talent pathway and to ensure the next generation of no.1s have everything they need to feel supported on their journey in the game. There are 11 Future Goalkeeping Centres across the country, 10 of which operate out of the Women’s High Performance Football Centres at leading universities, with an additional centre delivered by West Riding County FA.
The Future Lioness Goalkeeping Centres offer a specialised support programme to female goalkeepers with talent and potential, to help with their development on the path to potentially playing for England one day. Girls who are part of the centres can still register and play competitively for their club team; the centres simply provide an additional unique experience once a week that connects them to the England talent pathway.
The Future Lioness Goalkeeping Centres also provide coach development opportunities for aspiring coaches with the aim of developing a goalkeeping coach workforce for all levels of the women’s game.
Jamie Annerson, The FA’s Women’s Goalkeeping Pathway Lead, said: “The Future Lioness Goalkeeping Centres are a hugely important part of our talent pathway to show to every young girl that if they have a dream to play in goal professionally, they have a system in place to support them. Through their achievements in successive tournaments, the Lionesses have inspired a whole generation to play football, and that’s certainly being reflected in the demand for our centres from girls wanting to play as goalkeepers.”
Talking of the day, Mary Earps said: “Goalkeeping isn’t always a position that’s focused on so to have the opportunity to bring everyone together – us the current Lioness goalkeepers with the next generation – is incredibly special. I hope the girls made some memories that they’ll take with them for life. It’s hugely important the next generation has role models and can see other women and goalkeepers living out their dreams. It shows them that the pathway is there and that they too can go on to be professional and achieve their dreams.”
Ellie Roebuck added: “We’re really privileged to be able to inspire the next generation. It’s something we as a team take really seriously. As a young player I’d have loved to play at one of these centres and be able to be a part of a day like today. I was fortunate enough to have goalkeeping coaches throughout my career, but I know that wasn’t the case for the generation before me. It’s brilliant that this next generation have these facilities in place and they will be able to go on to perform to even higher levels.”
To find out more about the Women’s High Performance Centres, visit the England Football Learning website.