Charity football match was pitch perfect for Burnley teams who took on top players from 'The Bay'

Talented and enthusiastic female footballers are living proof that the 'beautiful game' is no longer a male domain.

By Susan Plunkett
Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 3:45 pm

Several players, male and female, took to the pitch for a charity match at the Prairie Sports Village in Burnley as part of the 'This Girl Can' campaign which aims to break down the barriers that prevent women and girls from participating in sport and physical activity.

Burnley Leisure's own Active Streets (walking football) team played four matches against Morecambe Ladies, who play in the North West Women's Regional League Premier Division.

Active Streets is a project funded through the BIG Lottery Reaching Communities Fund and its partners to provide community engagement sessions. The project aims to work alongside partner agencies in tackling anti-social behaviour within the hardest to reach communities to provide mentoring, training and volunteering opportunities within sport.

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Some of the Burnley and Morecambe players after their matches

Active team member Colette Thomas-Parker has played football since she was a child and the only girl among a group of lads playing on waste ground near her home. But she loved the game that much it didn't bother her in the slightest.

By the time she was 14 she was playing for Clitheroe in her first female team and she went on to play at Burnley FC Barn six a side, Burnley Borrowdale and later Accrington Stanley, Springhead, Preston Rangers and for her work's team Greater Manchester Police.

After retiring in 2019 Colette decided she still wanted to play football so she signed up for walking football at the Turf and played for Haslingden Ladies' walking football team in the Dick Kerr Cup in Preston.

This year she signed for Bury AFC which has several recreational teams as well who play seven and nine a side competitively.

Photographer Neil Cross caught some of the players in action on the pitch

Colette said: "The women are older, some new to football and others just been at it years and can't give it up - why should they when they can still play?

"In June this year I trailed for the Over 50's Northern Regional Walking Football Squad and got a spot. It was a blistering hot day and I was made up to get in the squad."

And Colette's message to any young girls out there who think they can't play football is to give it a go.

She added: "You might enjoy it.

"My four-year-old daughter enjoys football at Barrowford Celtic Academy where me and my wife help coach on a Saturday morning.

"To anyone who is older who wants to play or has played go for it you'll remember how it made you feel putting that strip on and doing something you enjoy."

As part of the ‘Fit n Fed’ holiday activity programmes Active Streets team deliver football sessions every Monday and Friday at 11am to 12pm at Prairie Sports Village. This session used to be Walking Football. To book your place contact Active Streets team on 07976321491 or email [email protected]