St Joseph's College women's football team prepares for national final

St Joseph's College in Ipswich will play in the Independent Schools FA Cup final on Monday, April 25

St Joseph's College in Ipswich will play in the Independent Schools FA Cup final on Monday, April 25 - Credit: St Joseph's College

A group of women's footballers at a leading Suffolk private school are hoping to bring home some silverware as the talented team prepares for a national cup final. 

St Joseph's College, which boasts former Ipswich Town midfielder Cole Skuse as one of their coaches, will face Rossall School on Monday in the Independent Schools FA Cup final at Hertfordshire FA's County Ground. 

The school, in Ipswich, is striving to become the country's premier institution for girls' football, having partnered with Ipswich Town Women in 2018. 

Former Ipswich Town stalwart Cole Skuse is one of the team's coaches

Former Ipswich Town stalwart Cole Skuse is one of the team's coaches - Credit: St Joseph's College

Since the link was established, the scholarship programme has produced several international players and first-team regulars at Ipswich, and current Town players Summer Hughes and Sarah Brasero could feature in the big match. 

Former Ipswich Town Women manager Ralph Pruden, who coaches the girls alongside England youth coach Paige Shorten and former Tractor Boys stalwart Skuse, who is now at Colchester United, has tipped the team for victory.

St Joseph's College coach Ralph Pruden

St Joseph's College coach Ralph Pruden - Credit: St Joseph's College

“As a school, it is going to be a great occasion for us," he said 

“In the two years I’ve been here, it’s clear how much we are trying to grow our girls’ sport and become renowned for their success.

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“We are likely going to have a rivalry with Rossall school for years to come, and that will be great as independent school football has traditionally been overlooked.

Skuse, who is now at Colchester United, made 278 appearances for Ipswich Town

Skuse, who is now at Colchester United, made 278 appearances for Ipswich Town - Credit: St Joseph's College

“Cole Skuse has some phenomenal experience as a player and we know nowhere in the country will have coaches as good as he and Paige.

“We want St Jo’s to have the best female programme in the country, and we’d argue we are very close to that.”

The team will face Rossall School in the final 

The team will face Rossall School in the final - Credit: St Joseph's College

Sixth form stars Summer and Sarah played in the Tractor Girls' FA Cup quarter-final match against West Ham in March, which was aired live on the BBC. 

Former St Jo’s students including Maddie Biggs and Anna Grey also played in the televised tie at the Goldstar Ground.

Mr Pruden said: “As young girls, seeing your peers playing for Ipswich Town, live on national television, will have been really inspiring. We are trying to build that and help our girls become role models.

“Just like we have with the men’s rugby shirts, I want to see shirts on the wall from all the clubs and international teams our girls play for. We want to build a story for girls to look up to.

“A lovely thing about St Jo’s is that people at the school recognise some of our best athletes are females – but that doesn’t bother them. In their perspective, they are players. Really good players.

“Hopefully that is a culture we will continue to build and share in upcoming years.”

The team is hoping to bring home some silverware

The team is hoping to bring home some silverware - Credit: St Joseph's College

Mr Pruden added he hopes the success of St Jo’s and Ipswich Town will inspire more girls in the community to get into football.

“Women’s football is growing rapidly,” he added. “We’re now seeing the Super League and international competitions on television, and sell-out attendances at Wembley. The interest is really growing and it is lovely to see.

“For us as a college, we want to be at the forefront of that regionally. We are looking at forming more local partnerships, doing some outreach work to support the growth of the sport.

“We are all passionate about growing the girls’ game.

“Often with the girls you start from scratch, which can be very exciting – some never will have dreamed of kicking a ball before.

“Helping to build that dream and share the love of the game from the very beginning is really special.”

Ipswich Town Women presser pics 3

Ipswich Town Women manager Joe Sheehan. - Credit: Ross Halls

Joe Sheehan, first team manager at ITFC Women, said: “All of us at Ipswich Town Women would like to wish St Joseph’s College our best wishes in their upcoming cup fixture.

“The partnership between Ipswich and St Jo’s has ensured elite players in our region have the best possible platform for their dual career across football and education.

“The success of our academy, women’s team and St Jo’s over the last four years highlights the quality of our environments.”