Liverpool's Women's Super League star Taylor Hinds made sure that it was a day to remember for over 150 girls competing in the recent Premier League Kicks Cup tournament at the University of Warwick.
Along with the Premier League Trophy, defender Hinds caused great excitement at the tournament in Coventry, where girls representing 20 professional football clubs from across England and Wales, competed for the title.
The Premier League Kicks programme uses the power of football and sport to inspire young people to reach their potential through football sessions and education workshops. Indeed, more than 21,000 girls and young women took part in Premier League Kicks sessions in 2022/23.
Mia Lazaro spoke to those who attended to find out the impact of the tournament and of the Premier League Kicks programme.
Taylor Hinds, Liverpool
"There are more than 150 girls at this event, and through the qualifiers more than 500 girls took part. It’s so good to see so many girls taking part and playing football. The more the Premier League outs on events to bring girls together and highlight their ability and dedication, the more it gives participants the ability to feel confident and happy.
"It’s really important, it brings girls together with their communities, and wanting to put the shirt on for the club that they want to play for. It’s nice that it gives girls the opportunity to play the game that they love. It’s crazy to see how the women’s game is growing, it’s unbelievable really. It’s really nice and it’s the way that the women’s game should be going.
"Football is open to everyone regardless of their sex or gender."
Mackenzie, Sheffield Wednesday
"I have been doing PL Kicks sessions for three years now, and participating with people of all ages. I also volunteer at football events all over the country. It is nice to get involved more, especially when you are making a difference with the refereeing and coaching.
“You get to see people having fun and enjoying themselves, and that is what truly matters."
Leila, Hull City
"Although this is our second time being here, it still meant a lot that we were able to represent Hull City for the entire day. We were part of a local football team from around the city, so the squad was put together to compete in this competition. It was just so good to play and represent them.
“It felt more serious and like I was playing in a professional league. We all truly enjoyed it, especially as we got to play together, as team-mates and as friends."
Dejaunel, Leyton Orient
“I got into PL Kicks as I had after-school club and Leyton Orient would come and then they told me about sessions in a park near me, so I started going on Tuesdays.
“That first session was fun, then a match. Then other girls came, everyone was new. I wanted to go back because my friends were there, it made me wanna go back and I like playing football.
“PL Kicks teaches you to socialise because when you're putting a bunch of new people in, it's football so you have to talk to each other and work out who is playing where so it makes you speak.
“My football ability has improved a lot because we do like drills before we done matches as well. I've always wanted to become a footballer. PL Kicks will help because they have a lot of opportunities.
“I'll remember the PL Kicks Cup for a long time because I don't really go too many big tournaments like this one against the likes of Liverpool and Spurs. It's a special day.
“This encourages girls to play football. It just shows how many other girls are playing football. It makes you want to play more.”
Nicoleta Bria, Organ transplant scientist & WSL assistant referee
"As well as working in medicine, I have been involved at high-profile games, and officiated in community tournaments such as the Premier League Kicks Cup.
"It has been wonderful to watch young girls travel from all over the country participate in a competition like this. These events truly inspire the next generation of women by increasing support and trust in themselves.
"I have witnessed so many great players, and I would love to see them grow, and hopefully play professionally in league teams in the future."
Abi, Preston North End captain and winning goalscorer
“When the ball went in, the feeling was amazing. I felt over the moon. I don't think I'll forget this day! l'm going to take it with me throughout my life.
“Today has been about togetherness. Our team is just like one family and because we were the underdogs, it felt even better because we just kept fighting.
"We won because we are so together and we kept each other going. We didn't give up, didn't let our heads go down. We just kept going.
"Being a part of a tournament like this is special because not everyone gets the chance to so even just being a part of it, is something you'll take with you for the whole of your life.
"PL Kicks is a community"
"This tournament shows that girls' football is growing and that it's popular. It's not just like a couple of girls, it's a lot and it's not just a men's sport, women can do it as well.
"I have been with PL Kicks for a couple of years. It's a community and it helped me make friends and good friends as well because we've all got the same interests.
"I didn't like communicating before. I wasn't very confident and because we've made friends and they're good friends, it just helps you build confidence on and off the pitch.
"PL Kicks is like a second family. It makes you feel a part of something. It means a lot to me."
Fern Whelan, former BHA WFC player and PFA Women’s Football EDI Executive
“It’s fantastic to see so many young girls inspired, wanting to join in and wanting to play football. I think now we’re seeing increased opportunities for girls. With the Premier League Kicks programme, it's making that safe space, making it as inclusive as possible for girls to be able to come in and play, enjoy their football and potentially, if it's something they are talented in, they can continue and progress through the pathway, which is now a lot more visible for girls.
“The investment into the emerging talent centres will also hopefully increase as much access as possible for young girls to continue to be able to play the game.
“Opportunities like this didn't exist before. When I was growing up, it was a little bit different to how it is today. I was playing as part of boys' teams for a long time. I didn't know there was going to be an opportunity to play and progress within women's football.
“For girls today to be able to come to Premier League Kicks events, and see their idols playing in World Cups, it's fantastic to see the growth in the way the game has progressed.
“To bring 150 girls from across the country, into one event, all in one place, all managing to compete and just to have a great day out, to just play football and really enjoy the occasion, it is brilliant. Hopefully they'll be more in future.”
Maisie, AFC Bournemouth
"If there is something I could tell girls who want to get involved with football, it is to not let anybody make you feel like you cannot be a part of this community. You have to keep going, as you will then end up participating in events, like I did, with the PL Kicks Tournament. There are so many rewards you get out of it, such as making new friends and learning new skills on and off the pitch.
“I am thankful for the Premier League for creating events like these because it changed my perception of football. I have always loved football and I have been playing for a very long time. I just feel like I will never stop doing it because it is sessions like these that keep me going."
Tayla Page, PL Kicks Cup Volunteer/Wolves casual coach
"I've been working at Wolverhampton Wanderers helping the disability teams by coaching the Under-12s, Under-16s and the adults. I wanted to get involved by assisting others, so I thought this was a great opportunity to volunteer. I love the Premier League, I love football and I love making a difference, so this was perfect for me.
“When you step back and look at it all, it is amazing to know that you are part of something so special. It is heart-warming to know that these sessions are created for people to be able to participate and just play what they love. This event has definitely inspired me to play again."
Francesca, Crewe Alexandra
"This year’s PL Kicks Tournament has been one of the greatest highs of my life. Participating in these sessions where the focus is on women and young girls is incredibly empowering, especially as it is hosted by the Premier League, so we all know that this is an official place where we can show our skills and learn a lot of new things.
“The day was filled with amazing footballers, so everyone was pressured to be their best, but it was a good kind of pressure."
"Events like the PL Kicks Tournament are incredibly important, especially for women in sports. It gives young people an opportunity to play with facilities like this, which they would never normally get. Events like this really can make a difference and have opened my eyes.
"The girls here gain a lot of confidence, experience and are able to progress further with their careers if they ever decide to continue playing football. Support for female players has increased with many more opportunities."