A FREE football day for girls aged six to 13 took place at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre in Lancing.

The session was run by Albion in the Community, Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s official charity and supported by American Express.

It forms part of the girls’ football programme which aims to encourage more youngsters to get involved in the game.

Launched last year, the initiative is funded by American Express, official shirt sponsor of BHAFC’s women’s team.

The day-long sessions are held three times a year on the community pitch at the Amex Training Ground with 60 free places available on each day.

Attended by girls of all abilities from across Sussex, the sessions include warm ups, shooting, dribbling and team games.

Two of Albion’s first team players, Sophie Perry and Laura Rafferty, made a surprise appearance, encouraging the girls and demonstrating their skills.

Both play at an international level for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

During the day, Amex staff volunteered as assistant coaches, match officials and helped AITC deliver mini-workshops on nutrition and the benefits of physical activity.

Kirsty Hulland, Brighton and Hove Albion’s general manager, women’s and girls’ football, said: “It is fantastic to see the ongoing commitment from Albion in the Community and American Express towards raising the profile of women’s and girls’ football.

“Events like today are a superb way of encouraging more girls to get involved in football.

“To have so many players taking part – including many who may be trying football for the first time – is absolutely brilliant.

“Giving so many girls the chance to play at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, just a few pitches away from where the Albion’s women’s team train, and meet some of the Albion team, is also not only a fantastic opportunity for the girls but helps build links between the community, local young players and the women’s and girl’s player pathway at the football club.”

For more information about future sessions telephone 01273 878277 or email development@albioninthecommunity.org.uk.

Albion in the Community s the official charity of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club.

In the past 12 months AITC has worked with more than 30,000 people in Sussex.

It delivers 60 different projects and programmes in the areas of health, social inclusion, schools, skills and training, disability sport and football

Realise the Potential of the Community is a bespoke employee volunteer programme, delivered by Albion in the Community and American Express.