Team Manager, Richard Dodd shares the story of Harvesters U14 Girls journey to the FA People's Cup finals below:
'Having read about the FA Peoples Cup last year, when entries opened for this season’s event our Harvesters U14 girls’ team felt it would be a great experience to play against teams from across the country in a format of football they hadn't played before.
The team had played Futsal both at Sandringham school and with the Herts Girls Football Partnership League, but never in an outdoor 5-a-side format with head height rules, sideboards and goalkeeping areas to contend with.
The qualifying competition was held at PlayFootball Luton and saw the team drawn against great quality opposition including Tottenham Hotspur and Oxford City.
However the team adapted quickly and ended up winning all their group games to qualify for the semi-final where they beat a very strong Tottenham Team before meeting Oxford City in the final.
The Final was a tense affair with the Oxford City twice taking the lead before we finally edged ahead 3-2 with less than a minute to spare.
When the invite came through for the People’s Cup Final in Sheffield there was huge excitement in the camp and a weekend road trip was quickly planned - (including a stop at Meadow Hall for some retail therapy) - energy building came in the form of an Italian meal before the tournament.
The excitement built further when we arrived at the finals venue in Sheffield to find the TV cameras set up to film the lucky finalist’s in their matches.
The opening group game was another tense affair with the girls slow to get into gear, and nervous about the occasion. They created lots of chances but the game ended goalless. The second group saw the girls getting into gear and they won comfortably 4-0.
However a quick check of the other results in the group, meant the final group game needed to be won to qualify for the final. Having now fully warmed up the girls quickly took control of the game and ran out 3-0 winners, guaranteeing a place in the final in front of the TV cameras.
The opposition in the final was provided by local favourites Doncaster Belles, who took the field confidently for the pre-match team photos.
Picking up where they left off in the group games, Harvesters worked tirelessly to close the Belles down and created a number of early chances, however some excellent keeping kept the score at 0-0. Belles however were first to score when a Harvesters defender stepped in the area conceding an early penalty.
The lead was short lived as Harvesters continued to pressure the Belles goal and found the corner of the net. A second goal followed giving Harvesters the lead and silencing the local supporters. Belles pressed had for the equaliser but it didn't come and late in the game a third Harvesters goal put the result beyond doubt.'
For more information, please contact Hertfordshire FA Marketing & Communications Officer, Callum Riley on 01462 650218 or via firstname.lastname@example.org