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England star Kelly visits Loughton
 Women's Football News 27 Jun 2012
Girls football teams in the Loughton area enjoyed the rare opportunity to meet one of the globe's great female football players, Arsenal and England forward Kelly Smith MBE, on Wednesday 20th June at The Academy's sports pavilion as the Essex County FA celebrated a successful South West Essex Girls Central Venue League season. 
Kelly, believed by many to be one of the greatest ever English female talents, and one of the best players in the world, presented mementoes to 18 teams - approximately 150 girls - from schools in Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Harlow and Epping Forest. They also had the chance to quiz her during a 'Question & Answer' session, where she recalled some of the favourite moments of her career so far and spoke of the upcoming games for the Gunners and Three Lions.
Every player received a list of Arsenal fixtures and the winning team, plus the winners of the Fair Play Award, were given 25 tickets each to see the Gunners Ladies in action. Essex County FA Women's & Girls Football Development Officer, Sharon Brownlie, was thrilled that a player of Smith's stature could act as a role model for future generations.
She said: "On behalf of the Essex County FA we truly thank Faye White at Arsenal Ladies FC for arranging Kelly's appearance for us. The girls absolutely loved having her there! She was a great ambassador for the football club as well as the women's and girls' game as a whole. Kelly was very approachable and happy to pose for photos and do autographs.
"The kids got to ask her various questions, like how often she trained, what her favourite TV show was when she was growing up, how many goals she's scored... and if she has any pets! It was our fourth and final event and Kelly presented trophies to the league winners, Lambourne, and overall Fair Play winners, St Bedes. This season has been a great success once again, with new schools coming on board. We've also seen a good rate of transition into local clubs."
Central Venue Leagues are set up at a location where participating teams don't have to travel huge distances to play, with all fixtures taking place in one visit. Quite often they are formed so that, at each event, teams compete for a trophy for that particular meeting while their fixtures also contribute to an overall table.

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