Leeds United Women captain Catherine Hamill on women's internationals, the FA Cup, and the quest for the perfect boot fit

I was well up for Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Norton and Stockton Ancients - even though it’s freezing cold - as I’ve got some assessments coming up for my Sport and Exercise Science degree, and it’s nice to get away from work for a little while with Leeds United Women.
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First I’ve got a biomechanics practical, where I’ll have to talk about the effect of different footwear on ground reaction force and sprint times, then I’m presenting a rehab programme for a football player with a hamstring injury.

Each time my brother finds me working he asks, ‘why have you got your laptop again?’ He’s only joking, but he doesn’t often see me getting out of the house these days!

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I was more ready for it this time around, I’d got lots of university work done on the Saturday and I knew exactly where my socks were, so it was really disappointing to hear that the game had been called off with a frozen pitch.

One positive, though, is that I’ve got an extra week to break in my new pair of boots. My teammates Olivia Smart and Rebekah Bass have been trying to convince me that wearing them in the bath is the way forward, as getting them wet helps to shape them to your feet. I’m not sold on the idea. I’ll see how this week goes, wearing them around the house and putting them under the radiator with football socks stuffed inside, then if that doesn’t work I’ll have to lace up and turn the taps on. Bit of a weird one, my parents will be wondering why I’m headed into the bathroom with boots on.

This evening my teammates and I are all headed to see England Women play Latvia in a World Cup qualifier at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster. I’m excited - it’ll be my first time watching the Lionesses. Football always looks better live, too, as when you’re there in the stands the ball seems to move quicker somehow.

You’d probably expect quite a large scoreline tonight. Belgium beat Armenia 19-0 the other day - it’s crazy how the standard differs in women’s internationals.

Leeds United Women prepare to face Hartlepool in the first round of the FA Cup. Pic: LUFC.Leeds United Women prepare to face Hartlepool in the first round of the FA Cup. Pic: LUFC.
Leeds United Women prepare to face Hartlepool in the first round of the FA Cup. Pic: LUFC.
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While most England players are at teams in the first and second tier, we’ve had a few internationally-capped players from different countries at Leeds in the past. At the moment, we’ve got Aaliyah Nolan, who’s featured for Bermuda before. There’s Katie Ramsden, too, who plays for England Under-17s. She’s getting towards the end of her time at the Regional Talent Centre so has come up to train with us once a week. She’s a great player - very technical - who will definitely be going places when she leaves the RTC.

We’ll cross our fingers and hope for a bit of warmer weather this weekend, when we’ll travel to Norton to play the rearranged FA Cup tie. If we can beat them, then we’ll play Championship side Durham at home the week after, but the focus is firmly on getting through the second round first.

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