A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk on the hallowed Wembley turf awaits Warsash Wasps under-15 girls – if they can claim national glory in today’s FA People’s Cup five-a-side final in Manchester.
A trip to Saturday’s FA Cup final is the impressive prize on offer, with the victors to be presented with their trophy on the pitch at half-time.
Wasps, consisting of Justine Hammond, Katie Finn, Faye Woolley, Jazz Willis, Libby Wilson, Eleanor Rees and Sophie Doyle, triumphed in their regional semi-final, held in Reading, and will this afternoon face off against other winners from across the country.
Starlets Woolley and Doyle have both cut short a school trip to be there, with manager Paul Hammond also cancelling pre-planned holiday arrangements.
The boss said: ‘A lot of people have gone out of their way to play in this.
‘A couple of the girls were away this weekend on a school trip to Wales and were not due back until today.
‘But as we all travelled up last night, their parents went all the way to the Brecon Beacons to pick them up and bring them to Manchester.
‘They didn’t want to miss it, obviously. I was meant to be on a break in Devon at the weekend so had to cancel that as well – you have to make the most of these opportunities.’
After topping their regional group with four straight wins, the girls played Sandhurst Sloths for a place in the national finals.
Trailing 4-2 with just three minutes to go of normal time, Warsash grabbed an equaliser in the dying seconds before securing victory with a sudden-death spot-kick triumph.
It was an achievement made more remarkable by the fact the girls were, and will today, be competing at under-16 level – a year up.
Hammond said: ‘It was incredibly tense but they just did so well.
‘They really enjoyed it and gave it everything – I have never seen them try so hard.
‘After we won, some of them were in tears, they were so overcome and excited at reaching the finals.’
The team went on to lift the Winchester & District Girls League Cup.
Hammond is now hopeful they can push on again and book a trip to the Cup final.
He added: ‘One of the girls is an Arsenal supporter, so for her in particular it would be fantastic.
‘To go on the pitch at half-time in front of 90,000 people is an incredibly exciting thought.’