The summer of 2022 was a watershed moment in English women's football. As the Lionesses triumphed in the Euro final in front of a sell-out Wembley massive, a joyous nation was galvanised — not least the young female footballers who hope one day to emulate their footie heroes.
Victoria Park Girls — or Vicky Park Rangers as they like to be called — certainly count themselves among those who'd like to follow in the footsteps/step-overs of the likes of Beth Mead, Leah Williamson and Chloe Kelly.
The girls-only Mile End club has steadily grown since PE teacher Taner Baycanli established it in 2018. These days VPR numbers 110 girls ranging from 4-15 years old. They can play, too; girls on the team have ended up at Premier League academies including Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Watford and West Ham.
Rather than wait for them to become world-famous superstars, Londonist decided to get in there early, and speak to three VPR players, who might just be Lionesses of the future:
Lois, 11 years old
Position? I'm a central midfielder when I play with VPR and West Ham, but I love throwing myself around in goal any chance I get.
Proudest moment? My proudest moment with VPR was when we came 3rd in a national tournament because we all tried very hard, worked well as a team, and I was very proud of the outcome.
Best advice the coach has given you? Adele my coach tells me to stay focused, keep working hard on the pitch, to try my best, and that's all she can ask for.
Footballing hero? Sam Kerr because she is a constant threat to the other teams' defence and goalie and her skills and pace are just amazing. I really want to be like her when I'm older because she just gives it her all in every game.
Team you'd most like to play for? I would like to play for Chelsea because I think they are a really good team. They work together really well, have a very good coach Emma Hayes, and I just love Chelsea. I've supported them for ages and whenever I go to match I think "that might be me one day".
What did it mean to you watching the Lionesses win the Euros? I felt really proud of them because in every match they worked together really well and they supported each other. I think they deserved to win because it shows that women can play football, that they are capable of playing amazing football, and of winning. I think it gives girls the inspiration to try hard, aim high, and accomplish their dreams.
Scarlett, 10 years old
Position? Left winger.
Proudest moment? When I helped my team get to the semi-final of a big competition (ESF).
Best advice the coach has given you? Never give up!
Footballing hero? It's got to be Beth Mead because she is an amazing player, never gives up on her dreams and is a really good leader and team player.
Team you'd most like to play for? I would really like to play for Arsenal women and the Lionesses, this has always been my dream!!
What did it mean to you watching the Lionesses win the Euros? The Euros meant a lot to me, the Lionesses are never appreciated as much as the England mens team.The Euros showed that women are just as capable of winning major competitions, and that they deserve to be supported just as much as the men.
Dixie, 9 years old
Proudest moment? The last away match we played Alexandra Park and Rose crossed it to Kat and scored.
Best advice the coach has given you? If you get in their half you'll be able to score. And for the defenders, never pass in the middle, pass out wide.
Footballing hero? Saka and Foden because I'm a forward too!
Team you'd most like to play for? I'd love to play for Liverpool!
What did it mean to you watching the Lionesses win the Euros? I felt really proud of the girls football team.
Farrah, 9 years old
Position? All around but I like playing in defence.
Proudest moment? When I scored a double nutmeg goal!
Best advice the coach has given you? To try and attack on the wings, not the middle of the pitch and for me to strike the ball harder with the inside of my foot.
Footballing hero? Beth Mead, because she plays for England and Arsenal. She was really good when we saw the England vs USA game at Wembley.
Team you'd most like to play for? England!
What did it mean to you watching the Lionesses win the Euros? It meant a lot because you don't usually get to see women's football on TV like that and England don't usually win football tournaments. We were all screaming the house down! It was the best feeling.