Everton Women have shown their backing for an inaugural girls' football tournament in honour of former England international Sylvia Gore.
The Sylvia Gore Schoolgirls’ Cup, held in memory of the former Knowsley resident who made a remarkable contribution to girls’ and women’s football in this country, saw around 100 schoolgirls from across Knowsley compete at a finals day at Halewood Leisure Centre.
And Everton duo Aurora Galli and Nathalie Bjorn both made a special appearance to show their appreciation for a local trailblazer.
Bjorn said: “It’s a pleasure for Aurora and I to be here today to pay tribute to someone so important to the women’s game in this region.
“Without people like Sylvia, who knows where our game would be, so to see an event held in her name being so well supported shows the future remains bright.
“It’s amazing to see the girls’ happiness when they play and to see so many youngsters playing.
“The way women’s football is growing right now is amazing and my advice to them is to have fun and then practise, practise, practise!”
Aurora Galli and Nathalie Bjorn with Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, Cllr Graham Morgan, the Leader of Knowsley Council, and Steve Gore and Jeanette Tree, Sylvia Gore’s cousins
Sylvia Gore was born in Prescot in 1944 and was encouraged to participate in football by her father and uncle, who both played for Prescot Cables.
Sylvia had a lifelong passion for the game at a time when the FA had banned female players from its pitches, and despite being stopped from joining her own school team, Sylvia persevered and went on to join Manchester Corinthians as a teenager and played charity matches all over the world.
In 1972 she had trials for the first England team and made history by scoring the team’s first ever goal in their maiden match.
When her playing career was over, she went on to manage the Welsh women’s national team from 1982 to 1989.
Sylvia was a member of the FA Women’s Committee for 20 years, became the first female director at the Liverpool County Football Association and in the 2000 New Year’s Honours list was made an MBE for services to girls’ and women’s football.
Sylvia was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and sadly passed away in 2016.
The inaugural Schoolgirls’ Cup in her name, launched in September 2022 by Knowsley Council with the blessing and support of Sylvia’s family and organised by Volair and the Knowsley School Sports Partnership, was won by Plantation Primary School, following more than 100 games of football involving nearly 20 schools and more than 180 year 5 and 6 girls.
The trophy was presented to the deserving winners by football pundit, former England international footballer and Blues supporter Sue Smith, who was herself coached by Sylvia as a youngster.
Smith added: “It was a real privilege to be invited along to the event and to see so many young girls getting involved in football.
“There was some fantastic talent on show and I couldn’t be more pleased that this tournament is being held in honour of someone who has made such a positive contribution to the game and to encouraging girls and women to take up the sport.
“Sylvia was my first football manager and someone I became lucky enough to call a good friend. I feel incredibly honoured to have known her personally and had the opportunity to be inspired by her passion and determination.
“She was a huge inspiration to me and I hope that her story will do the same for many of the girls here today, too.”