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The four-day UEFA Champions Festival provides a platform to promote all aspects of the beautiful game and, for the third year running, women's football was first on the agenda.
With the UEFA Women's Champions League final between Olympique Lyonnais and VfL Wolfsburg taking place in the evening, the festival staged activities on Thursday aimed at promoting the female side of the sport at every level. It started with a girls' training session led by former Germany defender Steffi Jones and ex-England international Faye White.
"It's awesome," said the ever-enthusiastic Jones. "The weather is fine and the girls are having fun. Days like this are very important for the development of the women's game and provide a great opportunity for girls to get involved."
Jones, who considers her role as a UEFA Women's EURO 2013 ambassador a "great honour", was more than happy "to give something back. I tell the girls it's a great sport. It's more than winning and losing games. It's about respect and fair play".
Also on hand to offer tips to the youngsters were Chelsea FC goalkeeper Carly Telford and England Under-17 coach Lois Fidler. "It's great to see all the girls – and boys – enjoying themselves today," said Telford, who would have relished the opportunity to train with professionals when taking her own first steps as a footballer. "We had nothing like this at their age. To have something that the girls and boys can come along to, and feel a part of, is fantastic."
Having risen through the ranks to become a full international, Telford believes England's hosting of this year's winter UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship, the first to feature eight teams, will inspire a new generation of young female players.
"I was lucky enough to play when I was U19 at a home venue and it was great to see so many parents coming along with their kids. It's nice for girls to have something to aspire to, aside from just men's football."
Fidler, who kept a watchful eye over the "next generation of superstars", is hoping the tournament will bring the women's game "exposure, increase its profile and take it to a new audience" in England.
Also in London for the UEFA Women's Champions League final was famed former United States striker Mia Hamm, who felt that Thursday's decider being held at Stamford Bridge – where over 18,000 fans will be in attendance – reflected how far women's football has come. "The fact women get to play in such a historic venue, that will be a thrill of a lifetime," she said.
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