Around 100 schoolgirls from across Knowsley were at Halewood Leisure Centre this afternoon competing in the grand final of the Sylvia Gore Schoolgirls’ Cup. This is the first year that this new tournament has been held – named in honour of the late Sylvia Gore, a former Knowsley resident who made a remarkable contribution to girls’ and women’s football in this country.
Plantation Primary School came out winners on day with Cronton Church of England Primary School being narrowly defeated on penalties after a well fought final.
The competition, launched by Knowsley Council with the blessing and support of Sylvia’s family has been organised by Volair and the Knowsley School Sports Partnership. On hand to present the tournament shield to the deserving winners was football pundit and former England international footballer Sue Smith who was herself coached by Sylvia as a youngster. She was joined by the Leader of Knowsley Council, Graham Morgan and members of Sylvia’s family. Also watching the talent on display was Everton FC’s Aurora Galli and Nathalie Bjorn.
Sue Smith commented:
“It was a real privilege to be invited along to this event today and to see so many young girls getting involved in football. There was some fantastic talent on show and I couldn’t be more pleased that this tournament is being held in honour of someone who has made such a positive contribution to the game and to encouraging girls and women to take up the sport.
Sylvia Gore was my first football manager and someone I became lucky enough to call a good friend. I feel incredibly honoured to have known her personally and had the opportunity to be inspired by her passion and determination. She was a huge inspiration to me and I hope that her story will do the same for many of the girls here today too.”
Mr Sanders from Plantation Primary School in Halewood said:
“This tournament has been an amazing experience for all the girls involved and something that they won’t forget. Our team had never played together before and to watch the girls develop and grow as footballers and team players over the past few months has been great. I am certain this experience will have inspired lots of them to continue playing football and who knows, we might have a future England Lioness here with us today. How fantastic would that be?”
Since the competition launched in September 2022, more than 100 games of football have taken place involving nearly 20 schools and more than 180 year 5 and 6 girls.
Run across two separate leagues (The North League with games played at Kirkby Leisure Centre and The South League with games played at Halewood Leisure Centre) the top 10 teams were invited to take part in this special event today which it is hoped will help to inspire even more girls to take up the beautiful game.
Steve Gore, Sylvia’s cousin was in attendance at the event he said:
“I am honoured to be here today and to represent the Gore family at such as special event. We are incredibly proud of everything that Sylvia’s achieved in her life but to see a whole new generation of Knowsley schoolgirls playing a game they love – and that of course Sylvia adored – has been quite emotional.
“I want to thank everyone involved. From the Council who came up with the idea to the organisers who have managed everything so well. Thanks of course must go to the schools who stepped up to take part and the hundreds of youngsters who have showcased their talents. I hope this experience has helped to ignite a passion for sport and encourage more girls to get involved in football – something that Sylvia dedicated her life to doing. She would be thrilled at how much more inclusive the sport is nowadays and overwhelmed to experience an event like this taking place in her name.”
Sylvia Gore was born in Prescot in 1944 and encouraged to participate in the game by her father and uncle who both played for Prescot Cables. She would attend matches with them both and run onto the pitch during half time. Affectionately known by Prescot Cables fans simply as the ‘the little girl who loved football’ Sylvia had a life-long passion for the game at a time when the FA had banned female players from its pitches.
Despite being stopped from joining her own school team, Sylvia persevered and went on to join Manchester Corinthians as a teenager and played charity matches all over the world. In 1972 she had trials for the first England team and made history by scoring the team’s first ever goal in their first match.
When Gore’s playing career was over, she went on to manage the Welsh women’s national team from 1982 to 1989. She was a member of the FA Women’s Committee for 20 years, became the first female director at the Liverpool County Football Association and in the 2000 New Year’s Honours list was made an MBE for services to girls’ and women’s football.
During her career Sylvia also worked as a football development officer at Knowsley Council. Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council said:
“Sylvia was a phenomenal role model for so many women and girls so it seemed only fitting that we organise something in her name that would give even more young girls the opportunity to get involved in sport. Throughout her career she inspired and encouraged so many people and I hope that this tournament has done that too. Certainly from watching some of the talent on display here today, I am sure that we could have some stars of the future in our midst here in Knowsley.”
Sylvia was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and sadly passed away in 2016. She will always be remembered in Knowsley and way beyond.
Knowsley School Sport Partnership is one of 150 national FA Girls Football Partnerships (FAGFSP) that aims to support and develop the delivery of girls’ football in schools and is working to ensure every girl has equal access to football in schools by 2024
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