Squad kick off at Portman Road

MOST little girls dream of becoming a ballerina or princess but reporter REBECCA LEFORT always wanted to be a footballer. So she was thrilled to train with the Spring into Summer squad at Ipswich Town Football Club.

MOST little girls dream of becoming a ballerina or princess but reporter REBECCA LEFORT always wanted to be a footballer. So she was thrilled to train with the Spring into Summer squad at Ipswich Town Football Club.

AS I walked on to the Portman Road training pitch, my heart was beating fast with the excitement of finally realising a lifetime ambition.

And as I walked off it, my heart was pounding even faster. Unfortunately that wasn't because Jim Magliton had just signed me up for the Ipswich Town first team, but because I was shattered after a gruelling training session with the Spring into Summer squad, led by the club's football development officer Andy Taylor.

It was great fun, but after my huffing and puffing I think I've finally given up on my childhood dream of one day becoming a professional footballer. I'm 23-years-old so I'm going to stick to this reporting lark instead; you don't have to run as much!

We started with simple warm-up exercises - one of which involved squatting over the ball like a chicken. Apparently the youngsters love that one and I can't help wondering if David Beckham is still forced to do it too.

Next we practised our shooting and passing skills, in activities designed for fun rather than competitiveness - which was a good job as otherwise nobody would have wanted to be on my team.

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And finally we took part in a five-a-side game where we ran up and down the pitch trying to win the ball, and at one point Andy threw in a second ball to speed up the pace.

I scored a hattrick! Okay, the hattrick part was purely in my fantasy of being a top footballer, but I certainly did run hard. And so did all of the squad, who, with bright red faces, proclaimed it one of the best sports they had tried during the ten-week programme.

Nick Anthony, 46, from Grundisburgh said: "Ninety per cent of people love football. When you get on the pitch you feel about 16-years-old, but tomorrow I'll probably feel more like 61!

"You don't think about the hard work at the time, because you do all the exercises and stretches with the ball, so it's enjoyable.”

Teresa Buckland, 46, from Woodbridge Road, Rushmere St Andrew, said: "That session was brilliant. It encompassed everything - it was fun, interesting, a good aerobic workout - I loved every aspect."

Andy told the squad after the match: "You guys don't realise how much running you've done, you were so busy getting involved with the game - and wanting to win.”

He spends most of his time teaching youngsters during school holidays, and weeknight coaching courses as part of the club's community trust, a charity which aims to provide facilities, education and training to improve football skills and health education in Suffolk.

He added: "The squad are a top group. What they did is no different to what the first team do.”

And as for me… I loved it too. But I reckon it's the closest I'll ever get to a proper football match.

I'll stick to cheering from the sidelines from now on!

See www.eveningstar.co.uk for a short video of the squad's football lesson.

Contemporary football in England started in 1863 when the world's first football association was founded - The Football Association in England.

The very earliest form of the game for which there is scientific evidence was in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC in China.

The first international football match was played in 1872 between England and Scotland.

FIFA (the federation of international football associations) was founded in Paris in May 1904 with seven members. It now has 204.

SOURCE: FIFA

There are many football clubs and courses, however it is harder for adults who aren't already good players to take up the sport.

Schools teach football and there is also the possibility of taking part in courses organised by ITFC's Community Trust or Ipswich Borough Council.

For adults there are many clubs playing at various levels throughout Suffolk, and all Ipswich sports centres can accommodate five or seven-a-side games, with 14 full-size pitches shared between Gainsborough and Whitton centres.

ITFC is looking into the idea of running sessions for adults too.

www.suffolkandipswichleague.co.uk

www.suffolkfa.com.

www.ipswich.gov.uk/Sport.

For more information about ITFC's Community Trust call 08451369333.

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