SSE Women’s FA Cup fourth round draw with Andrea Bell at Farnborough Academy in Nottingham
Pupils in Clifton enjoyed a school day with a difference as they helped conduct the draw for the fourth round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
On Monday morning, Farnborough Academy pupils Ella Barrett and Tallula Panayi were chosen to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they drew the six-ties that will make up the next round of the competition.
They were joined in doing so in the school hall by Nottingham Forest Ladies player Andrea Bell with Year 7 students and teachers alike also watching on for the 12-team draw.
The next round of fixtures will take place on Sunday February 19 with 11-year-old Ella delighted to have played a unique role in the competition.
“It felt really good to represent the school, and I think it’s a really big deal because I love football – it’s something I really enjoy doing,” she said.
“When I look back on it, I can say I took part in a big thing.”
Tallula teamed up with Ella to conduct the draw in the age old tradition of pulling numbered balls from a velvet bag, while the SSE Women’s FA Cup was also on full view.
And the 13-year-old Nottingham Forest fan admitted she had been the envy of all her classmates.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to pick the team and see who would play each other,” she said. “My friends said they wished they could do it instead of me!”
Farnborough Academy – who have former Forest defender and now PE teacher Julian Bennett among their staff – was chosen to host the draw thanks to its partnership with Teach First, a charity supported by SSE that aims to address educational inequalities in English and Welsh schools.
And head teacher Ben Chaloner believes Monday’s draw will live long in the memory of the pupils.
“We’re honoured to have the draw here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic event for the pupils, to inspire them really.
“When I got the call to say we’d host it, I was really excited. The opportunity to have the draw down here today, I couldn’t refuse that!
“It’s a bit of history, it’s a bit of national news that we can always say happened at our school.
“It gives us something to refer back to – people will remember the Forest footballer coming down here when we had the draw.”
Bell, who’s Forest side was drawn by the two pupils to face Millwall Lionesses away from home in the fourth round, added that she believes women’s football in the city will only go from strength to strength with initiatives such as Monday’s.
“I think it’s massively important for women’s football,” she said. “You need as much participation as possible, and seeing the cup up close and personal will be a huge inspiration for young girls and young boys.
“I think they’ve been really excited – they really enjoyed the session, and there’s few decent footballers in there, a few that Forest wouldn’t mind looking at signing!”
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday 13th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For the second consecutive year, kids go free to the final. Adult tickets cost £15 and can be purchased here: https://ticketing.thefa.com/