The 2015 Fifa Women's World Cup lived up to the high expectations. We witnessed nail biting penalty shootouts, new entrants such as Cameroon reaching the quarter finals, and impressive physical feats by female athletes. We also saw something a little more subtle but no less powerful: the world got behind a women's sporting event.
Playing with the boys helped me in my aim to get to the top of the women's game. I made my full first team debut for Huddersfield Town just seven days after my 16th birthday and also had my first experience of international football for Republic of Ireland under 16s (rather than England... but that's another story).
Every Tuesday, I go to a grotty old man's gym tucked underneath a railway bridge for a boxing class. It's gruelling. Most of us are there because it's an unrelenting class that makes us toned, strong and gives us a really positive sense of empowerment. Oh, and beating the living crap out of a boxing bag can be extremely therapeutic. But as I looked around at the women in my class, sweat pouring down my face, thinking murderous thoughts about our Bulgarian trainer bellowing the words 'press up tuck jump burpee!', I had a revelation about body image and assumptions.
Remember when we thought this summer brought about a new dawn for women's football, a watershed moment for the equality of women in sport? Well, we're clearly not quite there yet. We like our women footballers, just not so much as to boot a man off the cover. The whole sorry episode is a bigger own goal than Laura Bassett's.
Deeply entrenched, discriminatory notions of women's diminished status, whether the issue is a playing field or a paycheck, harm individual women and girls. They are denied their rights and blocked from achieving their full potential. Such norms also undermine sport itself, tarnishing notions such as fair play and open competition. It is time to overturn the barriers and stereotypes.
The greater football community has to stop treating the women's game as some fringe interest and actually give it the respect it deserves. The one legitimate criticism that could be levelled at this year's World Cup is that the standard of refereeing was abominable - but is that any kind of surprise?
The women's game offers a unique opportunity. Where else can you watch a team representing the club you have always supported, for less than a tenner and be able to approach the players after? We can see by the England squad that just achieved third place at the World Cup how relatable, likable and down to earth they all are.