Liverpool Ladies midfielder Amanda da Costa talks about training with Brendan Rodgers' squad and also making her FA Cup and Super League debuts.
Into the next round of the FA Cup and a battling point in the derby, it's been a positive first week of competitive action for Liverpool Ladies.
We also enjoyed a training session with the first team players and had some words of wisdom from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers leading up to the two games. It's been a memorable week!
Our opening game with Everton in the Continental Cup was quite the experience. I had heard all about the local rivalry and knew that it is one of the biggest in the game.
As expected, actually getting to experience the rivalry first hand was completely different than hearing about it. It was nice to have that pit in your stomach of excitement and nervousness, all mixed together. I had been injured after our match against Aston Villa, so for me the week was not how I would have normally liked to prepare for a game. Thankfully, our medical staff worked hard to get me on the field and I was able to make a quicker than expected recovery - which I was thankful for.
We drew a good crowd on the day, despite the freezing cold and snowy conditions, and the ground staff at our home pitch of Halton Stadium in Widnes worked incredibly hard to make the match possible. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, which was a fair result on the day. I think the biggest positive from the match was that we were all disappointed in our performance.
The snow was nothing like the previous weekend in the Cup against Aston Villa.
Playing on an already poor pitch, which had turned to more mud than grass - and has a naturally downward slope forcing you to run uphill at times - has happened to every player at one time or another! It just so happens that my competitive debut on English soil (mud) was under these exact conditions.
When you are faced with playing on a poor pitch, it is easy to use it as an excuse both for yourself, and for your team. (I could sit here and tell you all about how I looked like Bambi trying to move around on that pitch) However, I don't think our team even considered making excuses for our performance.
I think that our professionalism was evident on the day, starting from our manager and working its way down, and we were able to battle out to a 5-0 victory over Aston Villa. It was not pretty, I can assure you that much, but we were able to play some good football when the time called for it.
Our training session with the Liverpool first team made the national press - but I can tell you this was no one-off.
I don't think there is any club out there that has the support from the men's side as we do, and it's an amazing step forward for female athletes. It is good to know that we have their support and have been accepted into the Liverpool family.
I knew that this would be a once in a lifetime experience, and I really just tried to enjoy myself. I'm a football junkie, so I appreciated the little things like taking note of the differences in our warm-ups, and the overall demeanor of the men and how they carried themselves as professionals. The biggest thing to take note of is that at the end of the day, they are human beings just like us.
We had some time after training to enjoy a meal with the men along with some friendly conversation. Myself along with several teammates sat with Pepe Reina, Brad Jones, and Daniel Sturridge, and we enjoyed speaking about our lives and football alike. It was nice being able to speak with them as equals, and it made me appreciate the values of the club even more than I already had.
Before we started our training session, Brendan Rodgers took the time to bring the entire group together and welcome us into the Liverpool family. It speaks volumes of the integrity of this club to get such a warm welcome from the manager of the men's side. It was a humbling experience to be welcomed into a family with such an incredible history. Having the chance to be a part of all of that is tremendous for the Ladies side, and I hope that other clubs recognize the benefits of integrating their men and women's squads.
Spending time at Melwood has really inspired all of us.
I think seeing the competitive environment has pushed us to be more confident in our training since then, and more players have been comfortable taking on a leadership role within the team.
Follow Amanda: @ADacosta13.