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Team of the Year, a national final and a convincing win over Arsenal Ladies Academy!
All three fantastic achievements were secured by Colchester United Ladies Female Academy in the past two weeks as the programme continues to add to its reputation as one of, if not perhaps the best of its kind in the country.
First off, the Academy, based at Thurstable School, Tiptree was recognized as 2010 'Under-18 Team of the Year' at the Colchester Sports Awards for its achievements last year which included winning the Copa Catalunya Tournament in Barcelona, the Essex Colleges Trophy and an appearance in the British Colleges National League Final. It seems however that this year's squad may be able to top even that impressive showing as they have played their way to the latter stages of three major national competitions.
On 16 March, the Colchester squad will make their way to Norwich City FC's Carrow Road stadium to take on Doncaster's Balby Barr Community Sports College in the English Schools FA Under-18 National Final. This appearance was secured this past Monday when Colchester overcame Thomas Telford School 5-0 in the semi final held at Clacton FC's Rush Green Bowl ground.
Wish just one day's recovery time, Colchester then turned their attention back to British Colleges National Elite League action for a crunch first versus second battle with Arsenal Ladies' Oakland College Academy side. In perhaps the outstanding performance in the programme's history, Colchester emerged victorious with a resounding 5-1 win, goals from Flo Gamby (2), Hannah Gowland, Maegen Doyle and Amy Nash and a tremendous all around team effort securing a memorable victory. The win puts Colchester nine points clear of the Gunners with three games to play and all but seals a second consecutive appearance in the BCS National Elite League play-offs.
A league and cup double is also a possibility for the young Lady U's as they also take on Balby Barr in the semi finals of the BCS National Cup competition a week prior to their English Schools National Final engagement.
What a run in to the season it promises to be then for Academy Manager David Coyle's young charges who is delighted with his team's progress so far, commenting: "This year's squad knew they had a lot to live up to after last year's successes but whereas last season we gained momentum after a bit of a slow start, this time they really hit the ground running and haven't looked back. That has been down to a lot of hard work as well as learning the discipline and commitment it takes to be considered among the best in the country at what they do."
Coyle was quick however to guard against complacency adding: "The win against Arsenal is obviously a high point so far for the programme as they are still by far the benchmark in women's football in the UK but I have warned the players that they have won nothing yet and the home stretch is going to be really tough as we challenge on three fronts against the country's best sides including, I am sure, Arsenal again somewhere along the line. We will need to maintain our focus but if the players continue to perform as they have done so far we have every chance of making it a really special season."
As the Colchester United Ladies Academy Programme goes from strength to strength, the recruiting process for next season is well underway with an open day at Thurstable School in Tiptree scheduled for Thursday 7th April.
Any young female players aged 16-18 with a good playing background looking to combine an elite level football programme with full time academic study are encouraged to contact Academy Manager David Coyle on (07872) 542300 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an information pack. With a home stay residential programme in place, applications from anywhere in the UK are welcome.
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