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Lionesses remember their roots with childhood teams visit

England’s players took a break from preparations for UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 to meet young players from their own childhood clubs.

England players pose  with representatives from their grassroots clubs
England players pose with representatives from their grassroots clubs Getty Images

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is just two weeks away, but hosts England still found time to welcome special visitors to their training camp on Tuesday.

The Lionesses, who meet Austria in the tournament’s opening game on Wednesday 6 July, hosted aspiring young players from their childhood grassroots football clubs at an open training session at St George’s Park, posing for photos and signing autographs for their fans. 

'Magical experience'

England forward Ella Toone, who played for Astley and Tyldesley FC before joining Manchester United, enjoyed the visit.

 "It’s amazing to have my grassroots team here and see the smiles on their faces as they’ve had the chance to meet myself and my team-mates," she said. "We all started this journey somewhere, so it’s incredible to now be a role model to these young girls coming through. It’s a really special day and one we’ll remember for a long time."

 Ella Toone meets young fans
Ella Toone meets young fansGetty Images

Toone’s former coach at Astley and Tyldesley, Lee Povah, added: "This has been a magical experience for the girls – getting their shirts signed and watching training with huge smiles on their faces. We’re all really proud of Ella and we hope she has a brilliant tournament!"

Clubs who played a key role in the development of each member of the Lionesses squad were invited to the session, with nine grassroots clubs from across the country travelling to the Midlands to watch the training session. After training, more than 150 girls were given the chance to meet the squad and head coach Sarina Wiegman. Several of the Lionesses also received surprise visits from former teachers, coaches and mentors.

 Sarina Wiegman signs autographs for fans
Sarina Wiegman signs autographs for fansGetty Images

Which clubs joined the Lionesses training session?

Astley and Tyldesley FC – Ella Toone
North Walsham Town FC – Lauren Hemp
Caversham Trents – Fran Kirby
Aylesbury United Ladies and Girls FC – Ellen White
Killinghall Nomads JFC – Rachel Daley
Copmanthorpe FC – Lucy Staniforth
Beighton Magpies – Ellie Roebuck
Killamarsh Dynamos – Millie Bright
Northfield Town FC – Alex Greenwood

UEFA’s grassroots commitment

UEFA is investing €44 million into grassroots football development between 2020 and 2024, providing its 55 national associations with the finances, tools and guidance to give players of all ages and abilities the opportunity to play the game in an enjoyable, safe environment.

All such activities contribute to the UEFA Grassroots Charter, which sets standards for associations delivering grassroots programmes and ensures a quality experience for everybody involved.

UEFA’s 2021/22 Grassroots Award winners