English Colleges FA Women’s National team crowned champions in Italy
The English Colleges FA Women’s National team were crowned champions of the Il Cacio E’ Rosa 2019 in Rome last week on their debut in the competition.
For the first time the women’s squad were invited to compete in this tournament, mirroring the opportunity that has existed for the men’s squad for the last 10 years. And the team certainly did England proud, sailing through their group, then beating Welsh Colleges FA 1-0 in a nail-biting final, to bring the trophy home.
The 20-player squad, managed by Keith Boanas (UEFA pro licence coach, and previously coach of the Estonia women’s national team) was made up of college students from across the country that were selected from a two-phase trial process.
The team have been competing in the Women’s Super League (WSL) Academy Cup, but had only played three fixtures together prior to going out to Rome.
Supported by two assistant coaches, Carl Chater of Tyne Met College, and Natalie Haigh of Hartpury College, the team gelled quickly, and sailed through the group stages beating 3 regional Italian teams, Veneto, Lazio and Abruzzo 3-0, 1-0 and 6-0 respectively.
This meant they met Welsh Colleges FA in the final, the winners of the adjacent group, in what was set to be a tough fixture against a well drilled team. A goal from captain and SGS College student, Chloe Gilroy, was the only strike to separate the two sides, with the four other teams who competed in the tournament watching on from the stands.
Reflecting on the experience, Keith Boanas, ECFA Women’s Manager, said: “I am glad to have bought the trophy home. Great staff, great team, four wins, and four clean sheets, including beating Welsh Colleges FA in the final.
“The memories are unique and cannot be bought. It is all about the players, and I am certain that characters were created and strengthened. It really was a privilege.”