CHILDREN were playing football in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion yesterday – but it was all above board.

As part of a European tour, the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy was on show at the Pavilion in Brighton.

England’s Lionesses will be competing for it this summer at the Women’s World Cup in France.

And after inspecting the trophy yesterday, girls from Balfour Primary in Brighton were put through their paces by two former England players.

The Royal Pavilion is one of just three UK landmarks the World Cup is visiting before the tournament.

Brighton was chosen as it is where the Lionesses will play their final warm-up match before the World Cup begins.

England will take on New Zealand at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on June 1.

The trophy was in the safe hands of Football Association (FA) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) representatives, as well as England legends Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey – both of who have racked up more than 100 caps for England each.

Former Arsenal star Smith said the rise in the profile of women’s football has been fantastic to see.

She said: “The last few years has seen a massive rise, especially in media coverage.

“There are more games on TV and it’s become accessible for the general public to watch.

“It gives the public more access to the women’s game.”

She said the extra accessibility of the women’s game has given young girls role models to look up to and aspire to.

Also in attendance was the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Dee Simson.

Marzena Bogdanowicz, the head of marketing and commercial for women’s football at the FA, said: “This is a very special occasion.

“It’s thrilling to be here in this famous Brighton building.

“This is a very exciting time for the England Women’s team.

“We’ve had a successful year and we hope to take that into the World Cup.

“We have the Lionesses playing here in June and we hope the whole of Brighton will come and watch them play.”

Cllr Dee Simson said: “The Pavilion has provided a stunning backdrop to this trophy.

“Hosting top level games in the city will not only help raise the profile of women’s football, but will inspire the next generation of female footballers.”

Brighton has hosted England Lionesses matches in the past.

The team will be hoping to repeat the result of their last, and only, visit to the Amex when they beat Montenegro 9-0 in a World Cup Qualifier in 2014.

The Amex has played host to a number of high-profile international sporting events, most notably when Japan pulled off a shock victory over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup takes place from June 7 to July 7.