Kidderminster Lions are delighted to launch a new working relationship and sporting friendship with Orlando City Youth Soccer Club, Florida, a professional youth soccer club in the USA. OCYSC is led by Laura Halfpenny, who was raised in Bewdley and played football locally until moving to the US to further her football career. Laura contacted the Kidderminster Lions Girls Under 8s Team through social media whilst they were fundraising for new equipment. Her local connection and desire to give something back to grassroots football where she grew up was met with excitement and gratitude by the coaches of the Kidderminster Lions Under 8s and the whole committee of Kidderminster Lions Football Club.
Laura has already met with our club’s management committee and coaches sharing her expertise of growing OCYSC into a thriving community club and the vision culture and values align closely with the ethos of our club. Laura said “The purpose of the connection is for our club to explore ways in which the two clubs can mutually benefit each other and develop. We can share our resources and facilitate things that can improve Kidderminster Lions and make it better, and even more of a community club. I reached out through social media because I really wanted to give something back to grassroots football where I grew up, as playing football has had such a positive impact on my life”
OCYSC is part of the Major League Soccer team Orlando City, with players that include former Manchester United player Nani, 6-time World Player of the Year Brazilian legend Marta and USA star Alex Morgan.
On Saturday 28th June, Laura Halfpenny joined Kidderminster Lions Girls Under 8s and under 13s for a bespoke training session, introducing the Lionesses to some soccer skills from the states. Laura shared with the girls her own inspirational story of her journey from playing football outside her house in Bewdley growing up, to joining a boys’ team before being spotted by a coach offering her the opportunity to play soccer at college in the USA whilst furthering her education. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the session, meeting Laura and her wife Britt and imagining their futures in the world of football. Laura presented the Under 8s with their end of season trophies and brought over Orlando City shirts and bags for them all.
Coach Chris Evans of the Kidderminster Lions Under 8s explained ‘’ this is a really unique and inspiring opportunity for our young girls. Some have been playing football less than a year, and their progress as footballers, team players and confident youngsters is a joy to be part of. Having Laura’s involvement and expertise as part of our club will be so beneficial to our development as a club and a team. Girls football is growing rapidly in this country and it is vital that we focus not only on the football skills on the pitch but on the development of the community of Kidderminster Lions as a place to play football, make friends and develop life-long leadership and teamwork skills.’’
Kidderminster Lions Chair Sue Oliver expressed her enthusiasm for the unique working partnership ‘’Kidderminster Lions is a well established and respected football club for boys and girls locally. Like all clubs we are constantly developing and trying to improve the experiences for the youngsters who choose to play football with us. This unique sporting friendship with Orlando City Youth Soccer will give our club new ideas and opportunities to ensure a fabulous future for our fabulous club. It can be difficult to find enough volunteers for coaching and support roles within our club, this new working relationship will provide additional opportunities to seek out new membership and increase the profile within our local community of our football club.’’ For more information about joining our club contact Sue Oliver on 07884074061, and follow us on social media on facebook and twitter @klfc1996 Kidderminster Lions Football Club and Soccer School.