Ever wondered what a professional player gets up to on match day? Here’s your answer as Reading FC Womens’ Helen Ward gave us a behind-the-scenes insight into her preparation for the Royals’ FA Cup win over Millwall Lionesses last Sunday. We’ll be speaking to the Wales international over the course of this season so look out for more from her, but for now it’s over to Helen!
So, the day is finally upon us, Reading FC Women’s 2016 season is under way. It’s Millwall Lionesses in the FA Cup 5th round for us and it’s important that we prepare ourselves well and arrive at the ground ready to go.
Fortunately for me my 18 month old daughter is a good sleeper. This allows me to have a little lie in and a relaxed morning preparing for the game. I get up and pack my bag making sure I have all of my game day essentials…boots, sports bra and of course, my custom Pro Soccer Shin Pads.
Between 10 and 10:30 Emily and I are having our breakfast / pre match meal. Whilst away on international duty I got into the habit of enjoying a couple of pancakes with Nutella before a game. Hey, if it’s good enough for Jess Fishlock (of Seattle Reign and Wales) then it’s good enough for me!
I then make sure Emily is ready and has everything she needs for the day before taking her over to my mums so she and my husband Matt (who is on the golf course every Sunday morning) have everything they need to bring her over to the game in the afternoon. Having Emily means that I can give my mind a little break from football and I have found that really helpful, I’ve learnt that sometimes, it’s good to switch off.
Once I arrive at the ground – our new home at Wycombe Wanderers FC – I head for the changing room and I have to say, I reckon our kitman, Roberto, is up there with the best in the country. Our changing room is meticulously prepared and he makes sure we have everything we need from sock tape, to water, to towels to base layers, it’s all there for us and laid out to perfection.
We then check out the pitch before the coaching staff give us our last pieces of information and detail before we head out for the warm up. We are put through our paces and switched on both physically and mentally.
Then, it’s down to us. We step over that white line and it’s in our hands to deliver everything we have worked on in training and try to implement it into the game.
Thankfully we managed to do that against a good Millwall side and we booked ourselves into the quarter finals of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win. It’s a competition I’ve got mixed memories from having won it once and been a losing finalist on two other occasions. But the magic of the FA Cup never dies and I can’t wait until the next round.
After the game I head home with the family and grab some dinner. I make sure I eat well and replenish all of the energy I’ve lost during the game – post game is my favourite time of the week as I get to eat, a lot! It’s even more important this week as we have three games in 6 days so I have to make sure I get a lot of food in, put my feet up and recover well in time for the big one on Wednesday, Arsenal away in the FAWSL 1.