The Lionesses of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (FARS) are poised to square off against other servicewomen in a five-a-side football competition later this year.
Initial proposals have been put forward to hold an annual tournament, composed of 15 services across the UK, which could potentially land some talented players an opportunity on the international stage.
The Manchester Tennis and Football Centre has been selected to host the matches, only a stone’s throw away from the home of current (men’s) Premier League champions: Manchester City.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s new Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Michelle Hickmott, is set to lead the line in the tournament, having previously played for England nationally.
She said: “The service has two former England full-backs in its ranks in myself and Rachel Unitt (pictured). She is super talented, she’s such a fantastic player.
“Hopefully, with the other players in the squad, we can achieve great results together!”
Blue Watch Trainer Claire Lester, who is championing the cause, said: “I have been involved in football my whole life as a player, coach and manager but on joining the service this came to a stop.
“This opportunity was highlighted to me by the Chief Fire Officer, Rob Barber, who is extremely keen on getting this restarted.
“I believe this is an exciting opportunity, not only to represent Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service but to also promote the talented women we have in our ranks.”
Claire, who believes the sport plays an “integral part in the health and well-being of all colleagues,” also forecasts potential opportunities on the national stage for the players involved.
She said: “There is no dedicated tournament for women’s football in the fire service at the moment, meaning there isn’t a gateway for talented players into the national team.
“The proposals have already been backed by several services including Merseyside FRS, London Fire Brigade (FB), West Midlands FRS, Cheshire FRS and Greater Manchester FRS.
“I hope that the competition continues to build each and every year, eventually leading to a dedicated women’s football section within FireSport UK.”
To read more on FireSport UK and how they support colleagues across the country, visit: FSUK - Firesport UK the home of Fire Service Sport