Chichester City Ladies players were recognised on the international stage as three of the team made their full England debut for the national beach soccer team at the ITV Fever Pitch stadium in Manchester against Switzerland.
A purpose-built arena packed with 1,200 England supporters cheered on Emma Alexandre, Jade Widdowson and Kally Ambler as they tried to help England beat the team ranked number one in the world.
The Chichester girls put themselves on the map last summer when Chichester coach Liam Greenfield led the club side to win a major tournament, beating teams from Portsmouth and Brighton.
England Beach Soccer soon recognised the talents of Greenfield and his team and promoted him to a management role for the national side.
Greenfield said: “It was a great honour to be asked to get involved with the coaching of the national side, Friday night was a great experience for all involved and its fantastic to get the Chichester players recognised for their talent on sand.’
The game was closer than the scoreline would suggest with Switzerland running out 6-2 winners.
Greenfield said: “In the second phase of play we got the score back to 3-2 and the Swiss players were rattled – they never expected us to be as strong as we were and the Chichester players made a huge contribution to our national side’s performance.” The Chichester players were overwhelmed by the reception from supporters in the park, which has been built for the event on the old Granada Studios site in Manchester.
Ambler said the crowd made the occasion extra special and added: “After the match the fans all came on to the pitch and wanted photos taken with us. During the game they were signing and chanting our names – it was amazing!”
The England squad will have to wait to find out their next fixture but hope their performance against the best team in the world will make them stronger for their next fixture.
In the meantime the Chichester players will return to their club side for pre-season early next month.