WOKINGHAM AND EMMBROOK LADIES FC are officially up and running.
The Sumas competed in their first competitive fixture at the weekend and notched a thrilling 4-3 victory over rivals Bracknell Town Reserves with Alice Lilley bagging a hat-trick.
The win books a spot in the Berks and Bucks FA County Trophy quarter-finals where they will face Milton Keynes side Stony Stratford Town next month.
And manager John Lilley, who has worked with this group of players for eight years, is delighted with this latest historic step.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Lilley told The Wokingham Paper.
“I’ve been coaching these girls since they were 10 and they’re currently playing in the Under-18s league.
“We are slowly but surely recruiting new ladies to play so that next season they will make the leap into women’s football.
“This was just testing the water.
“It’s more physical but I think they just play great football these girls and their fitness levels are superb and I think that just gave us the edge.”
Lilley formed the girls team at Wokingham and Emmbrook as a way to get his daughter, Alice, into the game without having to travel too far.
So it proved fitting that she was the star of the first ever senior game for the side, bagging a hat-trick including a winning free-kick five minutes from time.
Rachel Calovich also got on the score sheet for Sumas with Ellie Reid named player-of-the-match.
And Lilley says he hopes the women’s side of the game can echo what is currently offered for the men.
“Wokingham and Emmbrook mens team have been a stalwart career path for talented players to step in to,” said the manager.
“That’s what we’re looking to mirror with the women’s side.
“I’ve followed these girls all the way through and recruited a team behind them and now we’ve got seven girls teams operating at the different age groups which is sensational.
“I always said that at some point we should have a womens team and give the girls that are growing up some role models to look up to and give them that career path.
“It gets very competitive at the womens level but I see no reason why we can’t go on and build a team that parallels what the men do.
“Talented players in Wokingham don’t have to travel miles, there’s a good quality club with a good quality side that they can come and play for in the local community.”
If you’re interested in joining the team then head to Cantley Park on Monday evenings at 6:30 for training or contact the manager on 07801 965597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.