Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the toughest.
One of the things that can get you through the tough days is remembering the proud moments. From their first smile to their first steps, a certificate of achievement to a medal, it is proof that the hard work and perseverance is worth it.
Having six children, I do have quite a few very proud moments to look back on, including Abbey collecting her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award at St James’ Palace, seeing Kian on the pitch at Wembley as a player escort, Callan laying the poppy wreath in Poole Park as an arm cadet and Isaac taking the honour of flag bearer at his St Georges Day Parade.
This weekend it was Eliza’s turn to join the ‘especially proud moments club’ as she was chosen to be a player escort at the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final.
Eliza started playing football last year, after attending an SSE Wildcats session and we haven’t looked back since. Her confidence and ball skills have really improved and now, instead of just following the main Chelsea FC team, we have started following the Chelsea Ladies and Youth teams with much more interest too.
Of course, we were over the moon when we watched the Chelsea Ladies beat last year’s winners Man City in the semi-finals and crossed our fingers that Eliza would walk out with her Chelsea heroes.
We got to Wembley nice and early and took advantage of the Women’s FA Cup fan zone, set up outside Wembley arena. The kids got to make their own banners, enjoy some fun photobooth action, get to try a penalty shoot out and watch live music and football trickery.
It was soon time to drop Eliza off at the meeting point and to say she was nervous was an understatement, but she was soon taken under the wing of two older girls, Olivia and Skye, buoyed by the news she would be walking out with Chelsea.
The next time we would see Eliza would be on the pitch at Wembley!! She on the other hand, made new friends, greeted the players off the coach and got to see not one, but four Wembley changing rooms!!
— Chelsea Ladies FC (@ChelseaLFC) May 5, 2018
Meanwhile, we got to explore Wembley before the crowds arrived.
At 3.30pm we were invited to join SSE in the Bobby Moore suite and were treated to a mid-afternoon snack and the chance to see the Women’s FA Cup Trophy in all its glory. Hubby was under strict instructions NOT to touch it!!
We entered the stadium itself about an hour before the match, where we were entertained by a live DJ, the club mascots and got to see the teams out for their pre-match warm up.
We also got to see Eliza in her match kit practicing and watching the players.
It was obvious from the smiles and waves that she was no longer nervous and just excited.
The children headed back into the tunnel to prepare for their starring role, whilst hundreds of children from teams from all around the country marched around the stadium.
Then it was time for the teams and the escorts to head onto the pitch in front of a record crowd of 45,423 people!!
Eliza was partnered with midfielder Millie Bright and stood proudly in front of her whilst the teams met the dignitaries and sang the national anthem.
She was then led off the pitch and it was time for the match to begin.
Although Isaac and Eliza were there when Kian was a player escort he was only three, and she a baby, so this was only their second experience of a football match and Sebastian’s first and they all loved it.
The atmosphere was very different from a men’s game. There were no rude songs and no effing and jeffing the referee’s or players, but the atmosphere was electric all the same.
Although us adults could enjoy a tipple if we wanted to, it was all very child friendly, with sweets, popcorn and ice cream on offer throughout the match and during half time.
The quality of the match was also brilliant and we were all super impressed by the skills on display from both teams.
Just 3 minutes into the second half Erin Bachman scored her first of two goals, with her second coming just 12 minutes later.
There were a few nerves when Miedema scored for Arsenal, but much to our delight, Fran Kirby put Chelsea’s third goal of the evening in the net to win victory.
I have to say a big thank you to SSE for hosting us for the day. Not only did Eliza get to be a player escort, but we had some amazing seats and the kids high-fived all the players as they headed up the steps to collect their trophy.
The Women’s FA Cup Final was truly a great family day out and a true celebration of women’s football and we cannot see what next year brings.
Did you tune in live on BBC1 to see the match or go to Wembley to watch it live?
Keep using the hashtag #TogetherWeCan to inspire a generation and grow the profile of the women’s game!
Disclaimer: We were guests of SSE to watch the SSE Women’s FA Cup final, all thoughts and opinions are our own