Former England star: ‘Let’s jump on this moment’

Thursday, 4th August — By Catherine Etoe

Kirsty Pealling

Kirsty Pealling

FORMER England defender Kirsty Pealling has her sights set on a Euro 2022 bounce as she looks ahead to a summer of sport in Camden.

Arsenal’s longest-serving player when she retired in 2006, Pealling was at Wembley as England were crowned champions of Europe.

It was an emotional moment for the Camden Council community sport officer, who grew up playing football on an estate in Hackney and on Arsenal’s indoor pitch at Highbury.

“How incredible,” she said. “It’s taken me a day for it all to sink in – I think I was in shock.”

In the wake of England’s success, the focus is turning to the need for improved facilities and coaching at grassroots level for aspiring girls.

“It’s improving, but where do our talented kids in inner London go to train or play at the next level?” Pealling said.

“Our most successful female clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, have development centres based outside of London and the FA and county FAs need to address this.”

Pealling hopes that community club Camden Youth FC, which caters for Under-10 to Under-17 girls, and other council programmes can help girls get into football locally.

“We’re really keen to jump on this moment and there’s lots going on,” she said. “We’re always looking for more girls to attend our football sessions.”

Alongside Camden Youth FC, there is the Weetabix Wildcats at Talacre, which is an FA initiative for 5 to 11-year-olds, and teams are involved in playing on Fridays at Market Road and on Saturdays at Regent’s Park.

And for the next two Wednesdays, newcomers aged 7-16 can try free girls-only football sessions between 11am to 1pm at Cantelowes.

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