FOUR young women footballers got a chance to take to the pitch at Leigh Sports Village during the Women’s Euros.
Local girls Lainey Doyle, Gracie Lee, Sienna Newby and Ava Pilkington have all been chosen to be referee mascots during the Euro games in Leigh after applying through a competition with Volkswagen Corkills Wigan.
All four girls walked onto the field with the referee and stood nearby while both national anthems were played.
The girls’ experience began at the Portugal v Switzerland game at the Leigh Sports Village, where Leigh Genesis player Lainey Doyle was the mascot during the riveting 2-2 draw.
Ava Pilkington was the mascot for the Netherlands vs Portugal game, while Gracie Lea took center stage for the Sweden vs Portugal game.
Sienna Newby was the mascot for the quarterfinal match between Sweden and Belgium.
The competition was open to young female footballers, who had the opportunity to be on the field with the players and receive two additional tickets to the game.
Girls from across the country took part in the competition, with a mascot at each of the 31 games between July 6th and 31st.
Lainey Doyle, 11, said: “Going to a Women’s EURO match was a really enjoyable experience, the atmosphere on the pitch, in the crowd and just in the stadium in general was great.
“I’ve been a big football fan for a long time and have been playing since I was seven. A major contributor to my memorable experiences with football was the fact that I was a mascot for some of the best women’s football players in the world.”
Ava Pilkington, who plays for the Leigh Genesis Comets U12 girls team, said: “Being on the pitch with all the players was inspiring for me because one day I want to be on the big stage like Euro.
“The atmosphere on the ground was spectacular.”
Ahead of the tournament, Volkswagen launched new research to examine the popularity of women’s football, their role models and opportunities to play at grassroots level.
“Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen UK, said: “It was a privilege to welcome some of the country’s most passionate young football fans as referee mascots at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.
“Besides a tremendously eventful tournament, we’re still raving about the stories we’ve heard from our mascots.
“We hope the tournament continues to inspire young women to pursue their love of football and we know our mascots will take away memories that will last a lifetime.”