The SSE Women’s FA Cup trophy stopped off at St Mark’s Church of England Academy on Tuesday ahead of the final at Wembley on Saturday.

Former England winger and 11-time Women’s FA Cup winner Rachel Yankey brought the trophy to the school and gave an assembly to pupils before a Q&A session.

Principal Lisa Peterkin welcomed both Yankey and the trophy to her school, and hoped the day would further inspire her pupils to play sport.

“It was absolutely overwhelming,” she admitted. “It’s such a great opportunity that when we were offered it we snapped it up very quickly, and one that I think our young people are very proud to be a part of.

“At St Mark’s we already have a great number of people already actively involved in sports, however this will just add a little bit more and give them a little bit more inspiration and insight as to what it is like to be a sportsperson.

“It’s not just taking part in a team game, it’s about the lifestyle in terms of things like healthy eating.

“I’m really proud that we’ve had this opportunity and I know our young people will have gained a lot through it.

“It’s absolutely wonderful that people are standing up and saying I’m a great sportsperson, you can do it too, and that’s what the children got from Rachel.

“Role models are really important across all spectrums of employment, sports is great and it’s great that we have more and more women standing up and saying ‘I’ve done it, I’ve achieved it, you can do it too’.”

Year 11 pupil Paula Holguin, a keen footballer herself, got to meet Yankey after the assembly and hopes to learn from the challenges she overcame in her career.

“It was incredible having her here,” she said. “She’s a true inspiration for young girls like me who love football and want to pursue football as a career.

“Her going through her struggles and keeping going has inspired me to keep going and training hard to get anywhere near where she’s been.

“I’ve learned from Rachel that in a career there are highs and lows, and I shouldn’t be stopped by the fact that I’m a girl.

“People can put you down and boys try to put you down but all you have to do is prove them wrong.”

Saturday sees Birmingham City take on Manchester City in the SSE Women’s FA Cup final, at Wembley, with a record crowd already expected.

And Yankey, who won the event nine times with Arsenal and twice with Fulham, hopes she has inspired some stars of the future after her visit to St Mark’s.

“For all of us, there’s a big responsibility to be role models – I’ll be open and honest with anyone who asks me about my career,” said the 37-year-old.

“It’s important that SSE bring the FA Cup round to schools to let the children see what this beautiful cup is, give them the opportunity to learn more, for players like myself to be able to talk about our career and hopefully inspire some of the kids to play football.”

Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday 13th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.

For the second consecutive year, kids go free to the final. Adult tickets cost £15 and can be purchased here.