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Women's Football News
Talented young female footballers from two Teesside primary schools are set to meet members of the Team GB women's squad just a week before they take centre stage at the London 2012 Olympics.
Girls from Middlesbrough schools, St Pius X and St Edward's, will enjoy a visit from Team GB stars Jill Scott and Steph Houghton when they take time out from preparing for the women's warm-up game against Sweden at Boro's Riverside Stadium.
North East girls Jill and Steph will drop in on the football-mad pupils' coaching session by top local club, Cleveland Juniors, to pass on some expert soccer tips and take part in a question-and-answer session.
The two schools recently met in the final of the Catholic Primary Schools Cup for all schools within the diocese stretching from Middlesbrough down to Hull, with Linthorpe-based St Edward's emerging victors. Park End-based St Pius X has a rich football heritage, as it is the former school of Middlesbrough FC chairman Steve Gibson and his lifelong friend and former footballer Chris Kamara.
Staff from both schools will support FA-qualified coaches from Cleveland Juniors in putting the children through their paces on the St Pius X pitches.
Sunderland-born midfielder Jill, 25, plays for Everton Ladies and is a regular for England, while 24-year-old Durham girl Steph stars for Arsenal and England. The pair were previously team mates at Sunderland, while Steph also had a spell with Leeds United.
Both are expected to play a big Olympic role for Team GB women, who kick off the Games when they play New Zealand at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Thursday 25 July. Taking place two days before the opening ceremony, the match will receive massive media focus as it will be the very first event of any sport London 2012.
Team GB players are training at Middlesbrough FC's Rockliffe Park training ground in Hurworth, near Darlington, ahead of a Riverside double header on Friday 20 July that will see the men face Brazil and the women meet Sweden.
St Pius X head teacher Catherine Percival said: "The Team GB games are an historic occasion for the town and it is so exciting for the children that we will be getting our very own visit from two members of the team before they go for gold at the Olympics."
St Edward's head teacher Colleen Short added: "The opportunity to be a small part of the 2012 Olympics and the visit to Teesside of Team GB is one that is sure to live with the girls for many years to come. A huge number of our girls love to play football so meeting Steph and Jill is a huge thrill for them."
An FA Charter Standard club, Cleveland Juniors started its to run girls' teams last year after more than 25 years as a successful club for boys of all ages. Based at Mill Hill Playing Fields, in Acklam, the club run the area's only free training academy.
Cleveland Juniors is looking to recruit more girls of any age or capability. Those interested should contact Keith Wright on (07825) 868375 or visit the club website at www.clubwebsite.co.uk/clevelandjuniorsfootballclub.
Cleveland Juniors are holding a free-to-enter fun day this Saturday 21 July, at Mill Hill Playing Fields, St Mary's Walk, Acklam, 11am-4pm including bouncy castle, rides and penalty shoot-out games, raffle, tombola and face painting.
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