Beccles Ladies hope Lioness effect will inspire new generation of players

Beccles Ladies team photo

Beccles Ladies FC team photo. - Credit: Beccles Ladies FC

The captain of Beccles Ladies says she hopes the England Women's team's Euros success will lead to more girls taking up the sport.

The Lionesses won Euro 2022 as they beat Germany 2-1 in extra time at Wembley on Sunday, the first major trophy any England team have lifted since the men's 1966 World Cup glory.

In Beccles, the town's ladies team took to the Ingate pub to watch England's heroines bring the trophy home.

England's Lauren Hemp (left), Jill Scott (centre) and Beth Mead celebrate with the trophy after Engl

North Walsham's Lauren Hemp (right), with Beth Mead and Jill Scott with the trophy after England win the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley. - Credit: PA

And for captain Lola Barber-King, it sparked hopes of a new generation of female footballers.

"I'm totally overcome with joy having followed the Lionesses throughout the tournament, their triumph Sunday proved that football isn't a sport occupied by men and done with such class, leadership and brilliance," she said.

"The success of the Lionesses shattered the barriers, posing any doubt that the women cannot be as successful as the men, and the profound support the women have had throughout the tournament hopefully means this will inspire girls across the county and country to get involved in football and sport more generally."

Lola

Beccles Ladies captain, Lola, (pictured) has scored over 50 goals for the Beccles Ladies in 3 seasons, despite the previous 2 being curtailed due to COVID-19. - Credit: Beccles Ladies FC

Beccles Town Ladies team play in the Norfolk Women's & Girls Football League, Division 1 and this season is their fourth year in the league.

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Manager of Beccles Ladies, Alan Runnacles, said: "The Lionesses were amazing and it proves that if you invest in something properly then you can achieve your goals. This has given ladies and girls' football teams across the whole country a massive boost and teams will just get better and bigger. 

"Since I've been involved with Beccles Town we have gone from one girls team to six girls, and two ladies teams in just over 11 years. After the success of the Euros I expect this to grow even more.

"This is their time now and I couldn't be prouder to say I manage a ladies football team."

Penalty

Beccles Ladies celebrating during a penalty shootout. - Credit: Beccles Ladies FC

Now the hope is schools and local clubs will able to capitalise on a huge spike in interest in women's football.

Jon Osborne, Head of community sport in Norwich, which works with the FA girls football schools partnership, said he hoped the attention would enable it to reach its goal of women having equal access to football in school by 2024.

"It will be interesting to see where the game will be in five years time when the next crop of female talent comes through after realising the success which can be achieved in the women's game thanks to the Lionesses's accomplishment," he said.