FOUR young footballers had the chance to walk onto the pitch at Leigh Sports Village during the Women's Euros.

Local girls Lainey Doyle, Gracie Lee, Sienna Newby and Ava Pilkington were all chosen to be a referee mascot during the Euro matches in Leigh, after applying through a competition with Volkswagen Corkills Wigan. 

All four girls walked with the referee onto the pitch and stood nearby while both national anthems took place. 

Leigh Journal: Gracie Lea on the pitch at Leigh Sports VillageGracie Lea on the pitch at Leigh Sports Village

The experience kicked off for the girls at the Portugal v Switzerland match at the Leigh Sports Village, where Leigh Genesis player Lainey Doyle was the mascot during the absorbing 2-2 draw.

Ava Pilkington was mascot at the Netherlands v Portugal game, while Gracie Lea took centre stage for Sweden v Portugal.

Sienna Newby mascoted for the Sweden v Belgium quarter-final match. 

The competition was opened to young female footballers who had the chance to stand on the pitch with the players as well as receiving two additional tickets to watch the match.  

Girls from across the country took part in the competition, with a mascot at each of the 31 matches between July 6 and July 31.  

Leigh Journal: Lainey Doyle (left) was a mascot for the Portugal and Switzerland gameLainey Doyle (left) was a mascot for the Portugal and Switzerland game

Lainey Doyle, 11 said: “Going to a Women's Euros match was a really enjoyable experience, the atmosphere on the pitch, in the crowd and just in the stadium in general was great.  

"I have been a big fan of football for a long time and have been playing since I was around 7, and have added to my memorable experiences with football especially being able to say I was a mascot for some of the best Women's football players in the world.” 

Ava Pilkington, who plays for Leigh Genesis Comets U12s girls team, said: “Being on the pitch with all the players was inspirational to me, because one day I would like to be on the big stage like the Euros. 

"The atmosphere in the ground was spectacular."

Leigh Journal: The girls said they loved the occasion to be on the pitch for the EurosThe girls said they loved the occasion to be on the pitch for the Euros

Before the tournament, Volkswagen launched new research to look into the popularity of the Women's game, their role models, and opportunities to play at grassroots level.

"Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen UK said: “It was a privilege to host some of the country’s most passionate young football fans as referee mascots at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022. 

"As well as a hugely eventful tournament, we’re still buzzing from the stories we’ve heard from our mascots.  

"We hope that the tournament continues to inspire young women to pursue their love for football, and we know our mascots will take away memories that will last a lifetime.”