We need to go back to halfway through 2015 for me to tell you all about the Juniors at Leeds Ladies FC. At that time, it was only the u16’s that had been formed and, although I missed a few games at the start of their season, I soon found out for myself just how talented these girls were.
They were simply magnificent throughout 2015 and going into 2016, you could sense these girls could and would pull off a magical season by winning the double (the league and the league cup) in their first season as a fully fledged team.
A few names to mention for you in that wonderful team are Khloe Cooper (former captain who led the team so well and showed just how astute a defender she was for Leeds), Lucy Haskell (a top quality keeper who pulled off some astounding saves at times), Sophie Vickers (who is still with the club and has put in a shift in every game she has played for the club), Jess Tate (again still with the club who has an absolute cracking record as a striker), and Carla Dyson (former co-captan with Khloe and who also worked her socks off on the pitch).
There are of course many more who all played their part in the double-winning team of 2015/16. The u16’s this season are taking last season’s heroic efforts and using it to inspire themselves to another potential trophy-laden season, such is the vast array of talent in the team with the likes of Ashleigh Storey, Ellie Rowe, Holly Staniforth and of course Sophie and Jess. They are more than capable of replicating last season and even bettering it! Every player in the u16’s team really should be proud of themselves so far and huge credit to Michael Heppleston who has come in and moulded a new team into something special.
This season has also seen the rise of a new junior team, the u15’s. Under coach Ben Peters (another one who deserves a huge amount of credit for coming into the fold at Leeds and creating something awesome with this team), the u15’s have not only got off the ground running, they have well and truly put a marker down to the rest of the teams in their division that they are not going to mess about.
Belle Sibbald, the captain for the side, has completely blown me away with the sheer quality she has shown and her leadership. I have seen some brilliant tackles from her to win possession of the ball and spread the ball into dangerous attacking positions for the u15’s.
Of course, there are other players to mention too. Emily Sykes, her sheer work-rate and a great eye for goal and pace leaves the opposition quaking in their boots. Eboney Stewart, another cracking goalkeeper who commands her area well (when the opposition can get on the attack!). Jessica Johnson, a solid defender who always does her duties well. Abbie Langstaff, another player who helps form free flowing attacks for the girls and scores some absolutely brilliant goals.
It’s really not hard to see how well they have gelled as a team, and their season has come along at such a pace that they could go on and win their league. This to me is the reason why having a junior set-up is a vital part of the club. They have shown off the field too that they are appreciative of the big support they receive from the fans (as well as their parents) who come to every game in every form of weather you can think of.
So to sum it all up, the future is going to be a bright and white one for the Leeds Ladies Juniors and ALL of these girls are going to go far in their footballing careers. And special mention to Lee Townend for his hard work and endeavour, along with Gary Cooper and others, in putting together these two wonderful teams.
There are Twitter accounts for both teams, LeedsLadies u15s and LeedsLadies u16s. Go give them a follow and show your support for them. They are also on Facebook as Leeds Ladies Juniors so again, go give them a like!