An under-14s girls football team from Lincolnshire competed in a European football competition held at Paris Saint-Germain’s stadium – where the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar play.
Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School year 9 girls Maisie Farrington, Jessica Frick, Lacey Holgate, Olivia ‘Liv’ Town, and Millie Wilson-Dakin were taken with their team, Horncastle Town Under 14s, on a three day tour to Paris for a football competition called the Europa Cup.
The team had the chance to learn about the history of Paris Saint-Germain before lining up in the tunnel and running onto the hallowed Parc des Princes turf to the sound of the legendary Champions League anthem.
They took part in a 7v7 football tournament against teams from as far afield as Portugal and Haiti, with each participant awarded a medal pitchside while their families watched proudly from the stands.
The players had the chance to step inside the changing rooms and sit on the same seats as some of the world’s greatest players.
PSG stars Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi’s shirts, among others, were hung up above the seats – much to the amazement of the Horncastle girls.
These players have won the biggest competitions in world football, earning millions in the process, and the Horncastle Town girls had the chance to sit where these superstars sit.
Horncastle Town FC coach Jamie Town organised the trip and his daughter Liv also played in the tournament. He said: “The Europa Cup is an open competition for junior teams from around the world.
“Our Under 14s captain Lacey Holgate had taken part in the last tournament in Barcelona before the pandemic, and advocated for everyone to take part not only as a form of team bonding but to help raise spirits after the difficult times presented by Covid-19. It was a way of getting everyone’s spirits up again.”
It wasn’t just football on the agenda for the girls, though, as they also had the chance to visit Disneyland Paris on their trip.
Funds were raised for travel and accommodation by taking part in raffles, quiz and bingo nights, bike sales and sweet selling, as well as earning donations from sponsors such as Riddels Skip Hire and Polypipe.
Jamie added: “Throughout the tournament there were massive smiles all round. The girls worked hard and made friends – it was great for them to be able to socialise with so many different people. It was fantastic for them to honour their hard work by playing at such an iconic stadium.
“The magnitude of the event didn’t hit some of the team until they got back home and saw the PSG stadium on TV; that was when the reality took over and they realised, “I’ve actually played football on that pitch!”