So back in July 2020 a friend contacted me to tell me about trials for a new girls football club called XL Football academy. My daughter had just been offered a place in a boys kent league team so we were not that interested but decided to go along and see what it was all about. After only attending 2 sessions we were contacted to say they would like to offer her a place in their Junior Premier League under 14s team. We discussed the offer and what it would involve. The main consideration for us was travelling as they are Medway based and we live in Canterbury. We decided to accept the offer and declined the space in the boys team so she could concentrate on XL.
Once pre-season started it was clear the level of coaching and training was exceptional. The girls were always happy as well which as a parent is something you love to see. Once the season started doubts crept in as the girls were losing games and sometimes by fairly big scores. But as with all new teams it was important to remember the girls needed time to bond and get to understand how each other plays. So we kept faith with XL’s plans for the girls and their player philosophy and before long this was proved to be the right decision. The development seen in the girls as a team and as individuals in a short space of time was unreal. It was then the two lockdowns, one before and one after Christmas hit. This interrupted the progress the team was making but, after the second lockdown, the girls really hit top form. The girls seemed super focused and were soon boasting victories over teams such as Tottenham Hotspur and London Bees. This new found determination led the team on a cup run where, after victories against Wimbledon and West Ham, they faced Crystal Palace in the final. That was such a proud moment as a parent watching my daughter walk out, with her team mates to face a top team, and I may have of had to hold a tear or two back. Unfortunately this ended with the girls losing 2-0, only conceding in the last few minutes. To see the girls push a Crystal Palace team who had been dominant all season to within few minutes of penalties reaffirmed those decisions made at the beginning of the journey when the place was first offered.
So, on reflection of the last year, seeing what the XL coaching team have managed to achieve with the girls in such a short, broken season, I cant wait to see what they can achieve next season. I know for sure my daughter has progressed no end as a player and has grown as an individual thanks to the support offered on and off the pitch by XL.