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Liverpool amateur football team, Liver Birds, are celebrating today after being crowned the best women's five-a-side team in the country having lifted the FA Umbro Fives title at the home of English football - Wembley Stadium.
Liver Birds were treated to a VIP Wembley experience for the finals and their path to glory began with a 2-0 victory over Ipswich Ladies. They followed this up with comprehensive wins over both Team Barcode from Newcastle and Ladies First from London to giving them a perfect record in the group stage.
The Liver Birds, who are captained by Blackburn Rovers skipper Natalie Preston and boast Everton and England star Fara Williams among their ranks, progressed through to the semi finals where they narrowly edged out Barnet Ladies in a closely fought game. However, they saved their best performance of the day for last, producing an outstanding display in the Final to defeat Bournemouth Ladies 9-1 and be crowned the 2008 champions.
Natalie Preston, captain, Liver Birds commented: "It has been one of the best days of my life; I can't believe we have just won the FA Umbro Fives final! We've had an amazing experience at Wembley and to seal victory over Bournemouth Ladies in the final has capped a truly memorable day.
"It's every kid's dream to lift a trophy at Wembley and I have just done it in front of my friends and family at probably the most famous stadium in the world. I can't wait until next year's tournament begins so we can try and retain our title."
Sunday's finals brought to a close the most successful FA Umbro Fives tournament ever. Beginning in March 2008, it saw over 1,700 teams battle it across the country in an effort to secure a place in the finals and lift the prestigious trophy at Wembley.
Liver Birds' road to Wembley, like that of all the other finalists, began with a series of local qualifying heats that took place between March and May. The winners of these qualified through to one of nine regional finals which were contested across England during June and July.
At the regional finals, teams battled it out for the ultimate prize in five-a-side football - a place in the Wembley finals. A total of 24 men's teams and eight women's teams were lucky enough to progress to yesterday's showpiece, along with eight lucky losing teams, knocked out during the local qualifiers, who were also selected at random to play in their own mini-final at Wembley.
Dermot Collins, Head of Small Sided Football, The Football Association, commented: "The FA Umbro Fives competition is a tournament which has once again captured the imagination of five-a-aside teams throughout the country. Yesterday was an amazing culmination to this year's tournament and saw a dream come true for all the teams that played at Wembley. We look forward to welcoming Liver Birds back next year to defend their FA Umbro Fives crown."
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