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This coming Sunday, Hampstead will welcome Cambridge Women to their home ground at Hampstead Heath Extension in the Third Round Qualifying of the FA Women's Cup.
To get to this stage, Hampstead had received a bye through the first round qualifying and then beat local adversaries Kikk Utd 3-0. It was the first time Hampstead had ever beaten their fellow London & South East Regional League rivals, and was also Hampstead's first victory at that stage of the competition.
Hampstead manager John Baker mused sentimentally and told Women's Soccer Scene: "The FA Cup, the oldest club competition in footballing history, provides a certain gravitas to a game, which is unrivalled anywhere else. It is famed for giving minnow clubs like Hampstead the opportunity to test their skills against the big boys…or girls. And that is exactly the prospect awaiting us on Sunday against Cambridge.
"It is a huge game for us that will not only reward the winner with a place in the first round proper of the competition, but also naturally bring with it increased media attention. It is the latter point that is most important for the club as currently we are yet to find a kit sponsor for this season. The situation is starting to get desperate for us. If we don't manage to secure a financial boost through sponsorship, we will have to abandon training from January due to the high costs of hiring pitches in NW3. It would be a tragic shame for economics to stop us where the opposition have thus far failed to. We're appealing to all local businesses to get involved with the club and help keep us going."
Hampstead's veteran left winger Anjana Gadgil added: "We've played in big games before; we're a big game team. But this season we feel like we can really get ourselves noticed - and a win against Cambridge this Sunday would be a great place to start."
Hampstead Captain Ellie Bard was more focussed on the job at hand. "HWFC has come a long way since I joined nearly six years ago," she enthused. "I just can't believe we're here, only one game from being in the actual FA Cup proper. It's just sensational and is a testament to the hard work everyone at the club has put in over the years. We are training twice as hard as normal in preparation. Cambridge are undoubtedly going to be one of the toughest teams we've ever faced and we are pushing so much to be at the peak of our game come kick off."
Vice Captain and Hampstead's most capped player Kate Freeman clearly has her eyes on the prize: "For me the greatest incentive for winning is the excitement of who we might draw in the next round - we have a massive hurdle to jump in beating Cambridge before we can consider the next round, but if (when!) we get through, I'll be keeping everything crossed for an away match in my native North East. My dad has a sharabang on standby in case we are drawn away to Whitley Bay or even Newcastle United."
Clearly buoyed by Freeman's incentivising, Hampstead's 2010-11 Player of the Season Deeple Patel added: "Coming off the back of four league wins in a row, our confidence is high and we know that on our day we are a match for any team we come up against. Cambridge are clearly a big team, playing at a higher level than us, but we have a strong squad and Sunday will be the time to show that this game is ours for the taking, and take it we will."
For details on attending the game, contact the club by e-mail on email@example.com.
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