Thursday 21st December 2017 @ AVFC Academy, Villa Park
Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA Eniola Aluko Shield
A Team: Liberty, Millie, Lacy, Latia, Javeigh, Sami and Rihanna
Goals: Rihanna x 3, Latia x3, Liberty x2 and Javeigh x1
Girl of the Match: Javeigh – a commanding presence in midfield and defence!
B Team: Keira, Tiana, Jenny, Mary, Amne and Shay-Leigh
Girl of the Match: Shay-Leigh
The Eniola Aluko Shield is named in honour of one of the most inspiring footballers to have learned their trade playing Birmingham Primary Schools’ football. Both on and off the pitch, Ms Aluko has been an inspiration to the primary school pupils of the Second City since bursting into the Birmingham City FC first team while still at school.
Through her incredible silky skills and strong moral purpose, the former Broadmeadow pupil rightly becomes the first female footballer to have a BPSFA title named in her honour, following in the footsteps of her close friend and former Aston footballer Daniel Sturridge.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Eniola Aluko moved with her family to Birmingham at the age of one.
Aluko started her career at Leafield Athletic Ladies and subsequently played for Birmingham City Ladies’ youth team and scored on her Birmingham City debut against Leeds United, aged just 14.
Called into the England national setup at the tender age of 14, Eniola has amassed 102 caps for her country, as well as playing professionally in America and England.
The current Chelsea sharp-shooter lifted the Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA 4-a-side title while captaining her school Broadmeadow of Kings Norton.
Twenty years on from Eniloa’s heroics for Broadmeadow, 70 of Birmingham’s most talented footballers took to the field on Thursday night to compete for the Eniola Aluko Shield. After lifting the first title of the season – Birmingham Primary Schools’ 7-a-side Championship – the girls from Erdington and Saltley were determined to make it two titles from two.
Up first for the girls was Aston, with the A team charging to a 3-0 victory and the B team falling to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of a stunning Aston goal. While the B team succumbed to a great goal, A team midfielder Rihanna bagged an amazing hat-trick to set her team up brilliantly for a confident tilt at the title.
Next up for both teams was South Birmingham. Less dramatic than the opening round of fixtures, the double header against South Birmingham saw the A team win 1-0 and the B team pick up their first point of the night after a confident performance and 0-0 draw.
That left both teams in a strong position to qualify for the semi-finals with a favourable draw. The third and final round of group fixtures saw both teams lock horns with Kings Norton. It was very fitting that it was the district where Eniola grew up and went to school who provided us with our sternest group-stage test. For long periods of the game the A team struggled to break down the resolute Kings Norton defence until Latia popped up with a deserved goal to maintain the girls 100% record. The B team encounter was lit up by a breathtaking Jenny volley into the top corner of the Kings Norton goal – the type of goal that Eniola no doubt would have been proud of!
In the knock-out stage, the B team conceded for only the second time in the night to lose to Aston B. Despite failing to make the final of their respective competition, the girls of the B team should be incredibly proud of their efforts and the amazing improvements that they have made since September. With new additions Shay-Leigh and Keira sparkling and old-heads Jenny, Mary, Amne and Tiana on form, it was a pleasure to watch them in action all evening.
That left the A team to fly the flag for The Ton and after captain Liberty scored a classy brace against Kings Norton in their semi-final, the A team marched onto the final.
With dreams of a second title firmly at the forefront of their mind, the girls started the final against South Birmingham at full speed, taking the lead from the boot of Latia after only one minute of play. However despite piling the pressure on South Birmingham, the girls suffered an epic blow in the final second of the final when South Birmingham equalised via the first and only goal that we conceded all night. That sucker punch could have knocked the stuffing out of the girls and derailed their title charge, but these girls are made of tougher stuff than that. With five minutes of extra time on the clock, Latia scored a smart first time finish to snatch a deserved victory and claim the girls’ second title of 2017/18.
A Birmingham City FC striker scoring the winning goal in a Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA final – now where have we seen that before?
The most pleasing thing about this victory was the manner in which the girls played as a team. From start to finish they passed the ball with confidence and worked tirelessly to defend in numbers. The pride and determination shown by the girls made all in attendance incredibly proud of these talented young ladies. It must also be pointed out that while Liberty, Javeigh and Sami are in year 6, Latia, Lacy, Millie and Rihanna are only in year 5! In fact, most of the B team girls are also competing against girls a year older!
The present is bright but so is the future!
Well done girls!
Up The Ton!