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Jessie beats the bullies to play the beautiful game

23 April 2018

A local youngster has become a source of inspiration for girls playing football after she was bullied at school for playing 'the beautiful game'.

Ahead of Girls Football Week, which takes place from 23-29 April, Jessie Adams, six, from Creswell, near Worksop, has been supported by Sheffield United Ladies and England Women after being told by fellow pupils on the school field one lunchtime that she couldn't join in a game of football - because she was a girl.

Within days, and having seen a tweet from Jessie's mum Anna expressing sadness at her daughter being denied the chance to play football, Sheffield United Ladies got in touch - offering Jessie the chance to lead the Blades out as mascot in their fixture against Radcliffe.

And, having seen the initial social media post, England Women made contact, which led to Jessie leading out the national team at Southampton's St. Mary's stadium for the World Cup Qualifier against Wales.

Anna, 32, said: "There's nothing worse than your daughter coming home from school upset. Jessie was told by peers that she wasn't allowed to play football because she was a girl.

"That's pretty much what I said in the tweet I published - I was just so sad, but the responses to it were so positive - it all blew up in a couple of hours.

"I never expected it to go as far as it did. Sheffield United Ladies got in touch straight away and wanted to go to the school to speak to the children.

"The Lionesses also got in touch too and before we knew it, Jessie had lived her dream of leading out not just Sheffield United Ladies but England Women out too!

"Initially, we took the tweet down simply because we didn't want people to get the wrong idea and think that we were trying to get freebies - but I regret taking it down now because it has had such a positive impact for girls in football."

"Jessie's school has been brilliant in helping combat the issue too - they've really supported us in fighting the supposed 'stigma' attached to girls playing football.

Carla Ward, interim manager of Sheffield United Ladies, said: "Jessie's story is one which we should all get behind and learn from during Girls Football Week.

"While it represents and highlights the struggle that so many girls and women still face when trying to get into football, it also highlights how the rest of the football community can come together as one. That's something which I believe is starting to happen at all levels, to encourage and support inclusion and participation among girls, but needs to keep happening and happen more often.

"Jessie is also extremely talented! She's certainly got something about her and she's someone we will be keeping a close eye on as she and develops."

Anna added: "As her mum of course I hope she becomes a professional.

"She's always telling me 'I'm going play for Sheffield United when I'm older' so I really hope she progresses as well as we all know she could and who knows, in 10, 12 years' time we may be talking about a professional footballer."

Sheffield United Ladies Football Club recently submitted an application to become part of the soon-to-be-formed FA Women's Championship, which would see SUFC Ladies rise two divisions up the women's football pyramid after being promoted to the Premier League Midlands Division this term.

Sheffield United established a girls' centre of excellence 16 years ago, with the academy staff having helped produce players such as Millie Bright and Beth England.

The Wildcats Girls' Football Centre provide girls with regular opportunities to play football and take part in organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment. 200 centres were established across England in 2017 and a further 800 are in place for 2018. SSE Wildcats Girls' Football has been established in partnership with SSE, supporters of girls' football participation and sponsor of the SSE Women's FA Cup, with support from UEFA, FIFA and The Youth Sport Trust.

The Wildcats Girls' Football Centres are as follows:

  • Sheffield United Community Foundation
    St.George's Park Westfield, Moss Way, S20 8FA
    Starting Friday April 27th 2018
    Every Friday; 4.00pm - 5.00pm
    £3.00 per session
    FREE taster sessions on 27th April & 4th May
  • Sheffield United Community Foundation
    Handsworth Grange Community Sports Centre, S13 9HJ
    Starting Wednesday 25th April 2018
    Every Wednesday; 4.45pm - 5.45pm
    £3.00 per session
    FREE taster sessions on 25th April & 2nd May

The sessions are football sessions for girls aged 5-11 who are beginners.

Register by emailing

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