An under-11s girls’ football team have been crowned the best in EUROPE after going three years and almost 100 games without losing a single match.
The fearsome Leek Town Strikers have scored 112 goals in just 15 matches and conceded only 13 this season.
They are so good that many boys’ teams refuse to play them fearing a humiliating defeat despite them not having a full-time goalkeeper.
The seven-a-side team have totted up a staggering 95 games without defeat, including winning their last 58 matches.
They have scored a whopping 328 goals during their winning run and have conceded just 28.
The formidable team, based in Leek, Staffs., have been around for four years after starting as an under-eights team.
In their first season they scored more than 100 goals and conceded none.
Manager Landon Burton, whose 11-year-old daughter Angel is striker, said: “Although we play development football primarily for fun, the girls have gone three seasons undefeated, including tournaments throughout the Midlands.
“We have been acclaimed as statistically the best football team in Europe with a record to rival Man City, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“As a team we realise that having fun, making friends and keeping fit are more important than winning itself.
“The secret to our success has been the girls having a genuine passion for the game and rotation of positions to give the players experience and understanding in all roles of the game.
“I was with my little girl, Angel, she wanted to play – I took her to a boys’ team, she was the only girl and felt isolated.
“She said she wants a girls’ team.
“There was only one other team in the area, but it was miles away.
“I said we will try and start out own and now it has grown to this.
“To a certain extent we still find that’s the case boys don’t want to play us, but we have got quite a few boys teams that have softened up to us and will play us.”
They went straight from under-eights to under-10s, winning the league in their second season – again scoring more than 100 and letting in just two.
Last season they did away with a full-time goalie and took it in turns to go in goal – a move which the manager says helps players to develop.
The team won three competitions as well as the league – the Staffordshire Girls Shield, Plate and Cup – and also won a competition in Shropshire and Cheshire.
Landon, 45, said: “We do have a full-time goalie now.
“It’s still important the other girls, from time to time, have a chance to go in goal.
“In other countries like Holland, until under 15 they don’t get a position, they move around and can get a grasp of different positions and see what it feels like.
“Another secret to our success, we have done Brazilian futsal skill sessions – to get used to playing smaller ball, heavier weight, using different parts of the feet to manipulate the ball.
“I’ve seen some of these girls from the age of six and even then, we have picked up on that they could play for England.
“We are going to see England ladies train in a few weeks’ time.
“They have got wind of us and invited us.
“We say to the girls, that could be your future if you play the way they are.
“Quite a few could make the ladies’ England team and I think that’s what inspires them.
“Even if they don’t and play for a professional club, the money aspect is changing – some of these ladies ten years ago were just getting travel allowances.
“In another ten years’ time they could be on some decent money – there is a career here.
“We probably have five or six who could if they really try.
“As it stands we have a nucleus together, but in a few years they could get poached by professional clubs.”
Now the coach is desperate for more girls to take up the sport and boost its profile.
The Strikers are hoping to win the Staffordshire Girls League for the fourth season in a row and most recently edged their opponents 2-1 in the cup, despite having three key players out with illness.
Landon added: “As Girls’ Football Week is approaching in April (23 to 29) we would like to spread the word about girls’ football – it is not just for boys, and we aim to showcase and create awareness for other girls to take up the game.
“This week we are playing a boys’ team in a friendly which will harden them up.
“Although we have picked exceptionally good boys teams, last time we drew against a boys’ team.
“The girls have never wanted to play with dolls, from the age of three my daughter has had a football at her feet – they have a genuine passion for it.
“I wanted to stress we are not trying to sing how good we are, it’s all about trying to promote girls football, get more girls involved in football.
“Statistically, we are the best in Europe – nobody can take that away from us.”