Footballers hit the beach, but not for a holiday

Beach football has taken off big-time in recent years
Beach football has taken off big-time in recent years

THE FIRST England ladies international beach soccer fixture takes place tomorrow (Fri) – and four Chichester players are in the squad.

The game is against Switzerland and is part of ITV’s World Cup Fever Pitch event in Manchester.

Since the team’s inception in 2012 players from several clubs along the south coast have been involved in training sessions and to date England’s only other fixture has been against an Isle of Wight select team.

Last summer saw the inaugural year of the national beach soccer tour in England and the Portsmouth leg of the tour saw Chichester ladies take on their counterparts from Brighton and Portsmouth in a tournament.

Chichester were victorious that day, not losing a game, and now four of those who played in the winning side will have the opportunity to represent their country, having trained with the national squad for the past month.

Jade Widdowson, Kally Ambler, Emma Alexandre and Hollie Wride have all been selected to travel to Manchester. Also involved in the England set-up is Chichester coach Liam Greenfield, assistant to Portsmouth’s Perry Northeast.

Greenfield said: “It’s a real testament to the girls’ hard work outside of their regular season to earn themselves the opportunity to represent their country.

“From a club perspective, it’s fantastic to have four of our players being selected for this event and having worked with them on the sand last summer and on the grass throughout the whole of last season, they are all very deserving of this chance.”

Alexandre added: “After last summer, we were all really keen to play beach soccer again this year and when we heard of the opportunity to play for England we jumped at the chance.”

Ambler spoke of her sense of pride at having the chance of representing her country: “It is the ambition of everyone involved in sport. I’m not sure it’s quite sunk in yet but I’m sure it will when we step on to the pitch and hear the National Anthem being played.”

The game kicks off at 7pm tomorrow (Fri) and you can see it on the Beach Soccer Worldwide website.