Girls' delight at 'unforgettable' meeting with England's Lionesses

Girls from North Walsham Town Football Club

Girls from North Walsham Town Football Club got to watch the national women's side train at George's Park football centre in Burton upon Trent. - Credit: Supplied by the club

Girls from North Walsham Town Football Club have had the chance to meet some of their sporting heroes, including one who started out on the same pitch they now play on.

Lauren Hemp, a forward for Manchester City and England, invited the girls to St George's Park football centre in Burton upon Trent to watch the national team, known as the Lionesses, train. 

The girls then got spend an hour talking to the pros ahead of their UEFA World Championship match against Austria on July 6.

National player Lauren Hemp, from North Walsham

National player Lauren Hemp, from North Walsham, met North Walsham Town Football Club girls including Brooke Rebbeck, 10, at a training day. - Credit: Supplied by the club

Brooke Rebbeck, 10, was among the youngsters who met Hemp, 21, who herself grew up in North Walsham and played for the local team. 

Brooke said the outing was "the best experience of my life".

She said: "Meeting the players has inspired me to become just like them and play for England one day. This is a memory I will never forget." 

Another North Walsham player, Robyn Burgess, 16, said: "It was really good feeling welcomed by the teams' warm personality. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the players that have inspired me in action and being able to express that to them."

Girls from North Walsham Town Football Club got to watch the national women's side train,

Girls from North Walsham Town Football Club got to watch the national women's side train, including Lauren Hemp (centre), who started with their club. - Credit: Supplied by the club

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Emma Barnes, 10, said the Lionesses were "very kind and lovely". "It’s inspired me to be the best I can be in the hope that one day I can be the next inspiration to girls grassroot football," she added. 

Isla Howard, 10, said: "It was an absolutely amazing day and has made me want to work even harder so that one day I can be one of the goalkeepers, training for England." 

Teammate Olivia Tomalin, also 10, said: "It was an unforgettable experience for us and I hope they enjoyed seeing the young girls that they inspire everyday." 

North Walsham Town has a growing pathway for girls and currently fields Under 9s, two Under 11s, Under 13, Under 16 and a women's team. 

UEFA named Hemp one of the 10 most promising players in Europe in 2020.  

Earlier this month she was named the Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year for a record fourth time – and third time in a row. It’s the longest period any player, male or female, has claimed the prize in consecutive seasons since the award’s inception in 1974.