For the first time ever, an all-girls team will play in the Isle of Wight Sunday Youth League, competing against teenage boys.

It follows a recent rule change by the FA which allows all-girls teams to play down an age group.

Now, Ventnor Youth U12s girls will be able to play competitive football next season without having to travel to the mainland, which at present is the only option for girls’ teams who wish to play other girls in a competitive league. 

“This is brilliant news for girls’ football on the Island, as the cost and travel time implications for girls travelling to the mainland is huge, and the amount of talent that is lost from the game from having to cross the Solent each week is massive,” said football coach, Jess Cutler.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We are really excited about this and preparing for next season already.

“We have a great bunch of girls who have worked really hard over the last couple of years playing in friendlies and monthly girls’ tournaments, but they need a bigger challenge.

“We approached the Isle of Wight Youth FA and asked if there was an option to join the predominantly boys league and they told us we could, and we’d be eligible to play down a year, in a bid to cancel out the physicality of playing against teenage boys.

“They have been hugely supportive, and we are very grateful for their help.

“It’s a massive step for girls’ football on the Island, and we urge other clubs to have a look at doing the same.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We have opted to play one year down but there is also the option to play two years below for teams who feel that would be better suited to them. 

“Ultimately, the more girls we can have playing weekly football on the Island, the better that is for not just the female game, but also for their families who struggle with the logistics of mainland football.

“This applies to the woman’s game as well.

“Our two Island teams both play in mainland leagues, but it would be great if this helps retain more players in girls’ football who hopefully go on to form more ladies’ teams, giving the opportunity for women to have an Island league of their own.”