July 26 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Aspiring footballers got the chance to meet their heroes as Arsenal Ladies paraded the FA Cup at the town hall on Monday.
The team, who mirrored the men’s side’s triumph by picking up their 13th FA Cup with a 2-0 victory over Everton on June 1, were invited by the new Mayor of Islington, Cllr Theresa Debono, who congratulated them on behalf of the borough.
Even Everton-fan council leader Richard Watts donned an Arsenal scarf for the celebration of the side that have dominated women’s football for more than 20 years.
It was hardly the 200,000- strong crowd that greeted the men’s victory back in May, but captain Kelly Smith, who scored the opening goal in the final, said things were improving in the women’s game.
“It’s good to see all the kids here and it’s a nice event that the borough has put on for us,” she said. “It’s great for us to be able to put a smile on their faces.
“Things are a little easier for them now, there are girls’ football teams at school and all-girls’ leagues from a young age.
“When I was their age I was the only girl playing. I had to play with the boys until I was 15.”
Smith, 35, is England’s all-time record goalscorer with 46 goals, has an MBE to her name and is in her third spell at the club. “We really appreciate everyone turning up and all the support,” she said.
The Year 10 girls’ football team from Highbury Fields School and players from Islington Ladies were lucky enough to meet their idols and even got in on the team photos.
Despite the Gunners beating his favoured Everton in the final, Cllr Watts paid tribute to the side and the positive effect they were having on girls in the borough.
“I’m an Everton fan, but I will put on my Arsenal scarf now, because I’m also a dad, and I know from the girls in my son’s class what an inspiration you all are to them.
“It’s a huge opportunity for the schoolchildren here today to spend some time and talk to world-class athletes at the top of their game.”