It's Girls United!; Campaign Honour for Soccer Success
Swingler, Steve, Birmingham Evening Mail (England)
WHEN Natalie Leroux was banned by the Football Association from playing alongside the boys it looked like she would be forced into hanging up her boots at the tender age of nine.
With no girls soccer clubs in Redditch to sign for, the FA's controversial ban on mixed gender teams over the age of eight had prematurely ended her competitive playing days.
The ruling devastated Natalie, of Hollyberry Close, Winyates Green.
Male team mates at Church Hill FC were equally gutted to see the departure of their talented winger.
But mum Julie, upset by her daughter's bitter disappointment, contacted Redditch United FC and set about launching a girls-only team.
Now, five years later, Redditch United Girls FC, along with just nine other sporting organisations around the UK, is to be held up by the Government as a shining example of what teenage girls can achieve through sport.
The club has been chosen to take part in a Sport England campaign which aims to get more teenage girls involved in sport.
The accolade is a feather in the cap for Julie who, together with a handful of other Mums, has worked tirelessly to turn Redditch United Girls into a thriving club.
Its teams, catering for girls aged between eight and 16, take on top outfits affiliated to professional clubs such as Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City in the Central Warwickshire Youth League.
Julie, the club's chairman, said: 'We're all proud and honoured to be chosen for the Sport England campaign and if it helps encourage teenage girls to continue playing sport into adulthood then so much the better.
'The club was started simply so that Natalie could continue playing football but we've achieved a hell of a lot in the past five years.
'We were the FA's Regional Club of the Year in 1999 and one of just three put forward for the national title. …