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Lionesses pilot groundbreaking fixture
 Women's Football News 19 Sep 2014
Lionesses pilot groundbreaking fixture - 19 Sep 2014 - Women's Football News

Millwall Lionesses and their colleagues at Millwall FC broke new ground on Thursday evening by staging the first competitive match between teams from the Girls' Centre of Excellence and the Boys' Academy. 
The game is the brainchild of Girls' Centre of Excellence Manager Dan Mlinar who explained to us his thinking behind the match: "We are one club at Millwall, so I think this is a great way to bring the club closer together.
"Even though we are the Millwall Lionesses and they are Millwall Football Club we have been quite separate for a number of years. Paul Palmer, who runs the foundation phase at Millwall, is very responsive to girl's football and has been very helpful in making this happen.
"The other factor is that the standard of girls' football at the younger ages is getting higher and higher. In my opinion, the best girls coming into the centre of excellence have played in boys' teams up to the ages of eight, nine, ten and even eleven. To challenge our girls, and push them along, they need to play against the best opposition and I think, playing against boys' academies, will do just that."
The match is a first for Millwall and Dan told us why he's so keen to pilot the scheme, adding: "I think, in previous years, people might have worried that the game would be looked at as boys v girls, which is not the case here, it's just good footballers against good football players.
"There are more girl footballers now than there have ever been and the quality of those players is constantly improving. Now is the right time to be trying something like this, whereas in previous years it might not have been so competitive.
"We are going to be playing our Under-11's and they will take on a mixture of the boy's Under-8 pre-academy team and some Under-9 trialists. There is a slight age difference but hopefully that will pitch it at a good level, to make it a really competitive game."
Dan is confident that the different playing styles between the two teams can significantly benefit the girls development, he continued, "I'm hoping that the girls will have a slightly tougher physical battle, in terms of the work rate and energy from the boys, and the tempo that they play at.
"Our philosophy is to dominate the one-on-ones. We want the girls to be able to play quickly and do things at a higher tempo. Then, when we go back to playing against girls, we'll have that extra bit of impetus and it will hopefully move us on."
If the game proves a success, Dan plans to repeat the fixture on a regular basis and also revealed that the FA is monitoring the match closely. Dan said: "We are looking to do this every six to eight weeks so we'll sit down afterwards, discuss the game and go from there.
"Steve Perkins at the FA was planning to come down for the match. They want to see video footage and they want lots of feedback, so I will be giving them a little case study of how it went. Hopefully they can take it out and more clubs can do the same thing."

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