Club’s delight after Fenland girl is named top goalkeeper at national Tesco football tournament

A TEENAGE girl pipped shot-stoppers from across the country to be named as the top goalkeeper at a national football tournament - just six months after taking up the gloves.

AFC Whittlesey Girls Under-14s ‘keeper Sophie Powell was given the prestigious award after shining at the Tesco Cup Central England Regional Finals at Warwick University.

The 14-year-old beat talented youngsters from teams including West Brom, Stoke City and eventual tournament winners Leicester City to claim the accolade. But it wasn’t until weeks after the tournament that the teenager realised she had won.

Team manager Andy Powell, Sophie’s father, said: “We didn’t know that these awards were going on so we left. Two weeks later a trophy arrived at the post office with a note saying she’d won the best goalkeeper award.

“We kept it secret and surprised her at the presentation night. As a parent you’re always biased, but others did come up to me and tell me how well she’d played.”

The young Whittlesey side put in gutsy performances against bigger opposition at the regional finals, claiming two draws. They had already tasted glory - winning the Cambridgeshire County Cup to reach the latter stages of the competition.

A delighted Sophie said: “It was a huge shock and I really didn’t expect it. It makes me feel incredibly proud to think I got the award ahead of ‘keepers from the top sides.

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“We lost our goalkeeper last year and we were going through the whole team, taking it in turns to go in goal. Halfway through the season I started to enjoy it more and decided to do it full time.

“One save does stand out in my mind from the tournament. They shot from inside the six yard box and I just tipped it over the bar. It was instinct because it was from point blank range.”