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Helen relishing Man City Cup challenge
 Women's Football FA Women's Cup News - 18 Jan 2019
FA Women's Cup News - Helen relishing Man City Cup challenge - 18 Jan 2019 - Women's Football NewsMatch winner matriarch Helen Ward knows she'll need to summon her nurturing nature as Watford Ladies face Manchester City in the Fourth Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup.
The Brent-born star has made a rousing return from giving birth to daughter Emily in 2014 and son Charlie in 2017, an experienced figurehead in a callow Golden Girls squad.
The 32-year-old was named SSE Women's FA Cup Player of the Round after firing four goals past Middlesbrough and expects her experience to be vital in cajoling her colleagues against City.
"It's a fantastic opportunity, especially for some of the younger members of the squad who won't have played against players of that calibre before," she said.
"It will be an eye-opener for some of us. The first 20 minutes are going to be key and the City players are all internationals at one level or another, so we'll have to deal with the tempo and intensity.
"We are quite a young team and I have been given the nickname Mummy by the girls! It's a different role to what I've had in the past and being a mother probably helps deal with that.
"It was a great team performance at Middlesbrough and while it's an honour to be named Player of the Round, I feel like it could have gone to any one of my team mates.
"We can't go to City and be overawed. It's going to be a platform for some of younger players to stake a claim.
"If they want to make a career out of football, these are the sorts of games they need to show they can do it. I've no doubt we'll go out there and give it our all - it's the FA Cup, why can't it be us?"
Yet there will be no surprises for Ward, the Welsh national team's all-time record goalscorer, when her National League South side take on the 2017 SSE Women's FA Cup winners.
The striker has been at the top of the women's game for nearly a decade, encompassing spells with FA WSL giants Arsenal, Chelsea and Reading.
An eventful 2018 saw Ward come within 90 minutes of earning Wales a first ever spot at this summer's Women's World Cup, only to lose to Phil Neville's Lionesses in a crucial qualifier. With Watford also losing their Tier 2 status last year, the mother figure is hoping a homecoming to the club that reared her can coincide with a return to the FA Women's Championship.
"When I had my second child at the start of last season, it felt right to come back and play closer to home," she said.
"I've got other things on in my life now I didn't have in the past and priorities change. Family comes first but football is still right up there.
"I wanted playing football to be something I didn't resent doing, so to come home was perfect.
"Last season didn't work out as planned on the pitch but it gave me the chance to regain full fitness after having Charlie and the support I've been given has been really good.
"The staff, the players, the management all showed a bit of love and compassion to me. I felt wanted and that was the main thing.
"I love playing for this badge and I'm hoping to help push us up the ladder in the right direction."
As the energy behind women's football, SSE's ambition is to support girls of all ages in England, helping them join in football from grassroots to the elite level. For more information on SSE's sponsorships and activities visit sse.co.uk.
(by Tom Harle, Sportsbeat)

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