GIRL footballers from the district are preparing to take on the country’s best after winning the regional qualifying round of a national tournament.

Ovingham Middle School’s U11 girls team took on a high standard of opposition at the northern regional finals St George’s Park in Sheffield.

They took on six teams in a round robin format, and won all of their matches to finish as leading qualifiers, scoring a total of 15 goals and conceding just two.

Joint top scorers for Ovingham were Amy Goodwin, and captain Eva Agar, but every member of the nine-player squad made a big contribution at the seven-a-side tournament.

Eleanor Dunnett was a key defender for Ovingham, while goalkeeper Grace Hackett came back from injury to have an outstanding competition.

Head of PE Deborah Goodwin said: “The girls have done incredibly well. They were up against schools from the likes of Manchester and Sheffield, and they weren’t fazed at all. They worked so hard for each other.

“Some of the teams we played against had academy players attached to high profile football clubs, but our girls proved what they can do at that level.”

It all started last October for the Ovingham Middle School girls, when they took part in the local qualifying round, at Prudhoe’s Highfield Middle School.

They progressed to the county stage, at Newcastle University, before travelling to Sheffield.

Mrs Goodwin added: “No date has been announced for the national final, and we don’t yet know where it’s going to be held.

“To reach the national final, and to be amongst the last eight in the country is a great achievement and we are proud of all involved.”

Ovingham U11 girls have got a lot to look forward to this season, including the U11 girls’ Northumberland County Cup final.

Last September, Ovingham Middle received the UK’s top honour for its inclusive approach to sport.

The school received the platinum award as part of the Government’s School Games Mark programme. The award is only handed to schools which have received the scheme’s gold mark for five consecutive years.

Sport is not just restricted to PE lessons at Ovingham, where pupils have the opportunity to join a wide range of lunchtime clubs, offering the chance to take part in sports including gymnastics, football, netball, rugby, athletics and tennis.

Girls football is thriving in the district. Ovingham’s success has come in the same month that a team from Haydon Bridge High School won the Tyne and Wear Schoolgirls’ U16 football championships.

The competition saw the Haydon Bridge youngsters go head-to-head against highly-rated players from larger schools across Tyne and Wear.