A football coach has high hopes for a bright future in the women’s game after recruiting her daughter into the team she runs and winning a league title together.

Leah Kinch first established a ladies football team at Easington Sports FC in Banbury five seasons ago and has watched the club’s female operation grow from one team to five during that period.

The player-coach is now joined on the pitch by her daughter Sienna - who celebrated her 16th birthday before the start of the current season – with the first-team squad who won the Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League Division Three North.

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The mother and daughter combination confirmed the league title following a 3-2 triumph over Milton Keynes Ladies with the team unbeaten in their 10 league matches this season.

The season is not yet over but it's mathematically impossible for another team to catch them.

Sienna’s experiences on the pitch are a far cry from what 38-year-old Ms Kinch was accustomed to growing up.

Playing opportunities in an organised environment were limited and her nearest women’s team was based a 40-minute drive away.

After Sport England figures revealed more than 777,000 girls play football in a formal setting each week – up by 200,000 since 2017 – Ms Kinch now has renewed enthusiasm for the future of the women’s game.

The success of the Lionesses - the England women's national football team - has inspired thousands of girls to play football in recent years.

Oxford Mail: Easington Sports FC ladies team“Football runs in the family – and to win a league title with Sienna in our first season together is an incredible feeling,” said Ms Kinch.

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“It’s a huge team effort and the whole squad deserves credit for their commitment not just during matches but in training as well.

“My brother Tommy plays for the first team at Easington Sports and my father was involved in local football when I was younger.

“Back then, opportunities for me to play with other girls were really limited and at times I had no choice but to train with the boys – that’s by far the biggest change.

"Today, there’s a player pathway for my daughter Sienna to follow, youth teams to be part of and consistent training and playing routines.

“The exposure women’s football receives too is fantastic and can only help inspire more young female footballers to lace up their boots and give it a go which for me as a coach is great.

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“Me and Sienna are like best friends on and off the pitch.

"She’s learning a lot from our more experienced players too and we’re fortunate to have a strong squad which is complimented by our younger players who have so much enthusiasm to play.”

In addition to managing Easington Sports FC’s ladies team, Ms Kinch is also vice chair of the club, coaches the U16s boys’ team and helps deliver its Wildcats Girls Football programme.

Oxford Mail: A summer camp at Easington Sports FCOpen to girls aged 5-11 of all playing abilities, Wildcats Girls Football sessions are held every Thursday from 6pm for an hour with the programme acting as the first step in Easington Sports’ female player pathway.

Further information about Easington Sports FC is available online via the club’s website www.easingtonsportsfc.com.

Players interested in joining the club can email easingtonladiesfc@gmail.com

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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