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Chelsea help attract more players
 Women's Football News 24 Aug 2007
Chelsea help attract more players - 24 Aug 2007Chelsea's preparations for their new season took them to Brighton to play local team Los Amigos in a match arranged by five-a-side company Pitch Invasion to encourage more women into football at grassroots level. 
The match is part of a series of community events that the Chelsea team are embarking on to help attract more women into the game.
The game against Los Amigos came about after Chelsea Ladies general manager, Ben Bartlett, heard about the efforts of Lucy Darling, the Los Amigos captain, and Pitch Invasion to create a female five-a-side league in Brighton. Lucy had written to various companies, organisations and sports clubs in the area looking for female teams to join and in a dream come true for Lucy and her team mates, Chelsea offered to play the game to help generate interest. Despite poor weather, over a hundred spectators turned out to watch the match, many of whom were young girls come to watch and meet the Chelsea players. Before the kick off there was almost a party atmosphere as both teams posed for photographs and to speak to the crowd.
On the night, Chelsea were without Casey Stoney, Eniola Aluko and Siobhan Chamberlain, as these players were away with the England squad preparing for the forthcoming World Cup in China. However, the Chelsea side that took the field against Lucy's team who have only been playing together since February this year was a strong one blending experience and youth, featuring the outstanding talents of England Under-17 goalkeeper Emily Morphitis, England Under-17 international Nicki Brown and England Under-19 international Charlotte Gurr.
Lucy's team played above themselves and frustrated the Chelsea team in the opening stages with great saves from Laura Crow in goal and a number of last ditch tackles. And then the Chelsea scoring started and 5-0 is how it finished at half time, but Los Amigos did give the Chelsea defence a scare and went close to scoring on a couple of occasions. The second half was very much a one-sided affair as the Chelsea team's fitness and superior skills began to tell. At the end it was 19-0 to Chelsea and then it was more smiles, photographs and chat.
Speaking after his team's victory, Ben Bartlett had this to say about the event,:"The women's game is still developing and anything a club like Chelsea can do to help attract more girls and women to play can only benefit the game. We've been made to feel really welcome by Lucy and her team and Pitch Invasion, and it has been a great evening with lots of people here and people taking pictures. It would be good to come back next year and for there to be an established women's league. We need more people like Lucy and organisations like Pitch Invasion actively encouraging women into football at local grassroots level."
When asked about his team's chances in this year's National Division, which for Chelsea does not kick off until they play away to Crewe Alexandra in the Premier League Cup on 30 September, Ben says, "Arsenal are the dominant team in the ladies game at the moment and I'd expect it to stay that way. It's fantastic that Charlton Athletic women's team is back after it looked like they had gone, Leeds United and Everton are both well established and strong, but we are building a team. We've made some good acquisitions this summer and are looking to improve on last season with a top half finish and good run in the cup."
Craig Davies, general manager of Pitch Invasion, was full of praise for both teams: "The Chelsea team were brilliant, very friendly and very talented at football. I think they would give many of our men's five-a-side teams a tough time on the pitch. Lucy and the Los Amigos team can be really proud; they tried really hard and were unlucky not to score a goal or two.
Players wanting to join the female five-a-side league in Brighton can telephone (0870) 241 2494 or visit www.pitch-invasion.com.

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