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Shootout drama at Redbridge!
 Women's Football News 13 Feb 2009
Increased female football participation in Essex's London Boroughs received a further boost recently when the latest monthly instalment of the Essex County Football Association's beginners Sevens League was concluded courtesy of an exciting sudden death penalty shootout at the Powerleague venue in Redbridge.
Aimed at introducing the game to newcomers and providing a smooth path back into football for individuals with a limited experience of the sport over a six-month period, the ECFA have set-up and supported various female taster sessions in the area, which remain ongoing in both Havering and Newham. The idea is to provide adults with a flexible format which originally comprised of weekly training sessions and one-off friendlies. A new venue in Chingford has also been set up in a bid to further enhance participation figures and it is currently rated as a huge victory.
Seven teams have signed up to the League, with all participating sides receiving the bonus of free Umbro playing and training kit. Teams play each other monthly in a 'round robin' format and all points earned are carried over to the following month. The team that generates the most points after the six events will be crowned champions, though a mini final is also scheduled at the end of each meeting for the top two placed sides, to keep players engaged throughout.
In January's meeting, high fliers Women United leapfrogged Havering Utd 1 into top spot on goal difference following a thrilling sudden death penalty shootout in the final. United topped the points table after the group games and fate decreed they would meet Havering in an exciting climax. With the score locked at 1-1 at full time, and after five successful penalties were converted by both teams, only sudden death could separate them to confirm Women United as victors. The Newham-based team completed a successful meeting by also claiming the event's Fair Play Trophy for the second consecutive month to go with their monthly crown. The next league event is taking place on Friday 27th February, again at Powerleague in Redbridge.
ECFA Girls' & Women's Development Officer Sharon Brownlie, summarised: "The most pleasing element is seeing so many females being given the opportunity to try our game as football was only really open to players who were half-good or those that wanted to a join a team. Another plus is seeing them compete at the monthly events and watching their ability and confidence grow after each event. Hopefully everybody taking part is benefiting but I think those that are completely new to the game seem to be getting most out of the sessions as they are pitched at their level."
Following the huge triumph of the Sevens League to date, Sharon is also confident the participants will stay in the game once the competition has reached its climax, adding: "There are many reasons why females want to play football. Those involved in our sessions have got involved to keep fit, meet new friends, try a new sport or get back into football after possibly having children. Once this league is complete we will be consulting with the teams involved to see where they want to go next. This could mean beginning the league again or moving on to nine-a-side during the summer."
Sharon is still seeking interested females looking to take part in the fun, as well as volunteers or coaches who would benefit from getting involved in helping to support and deliver current and upcoming sessions. Further information can be gathered on (01245) 393074 or via e-mail at sharon.brownlie@essexfa.com.

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