Three young mothers have spoken of how their return to competitive sport has helped them both physically and mentally.
Melinda Wilson, Alex Waters (nee Davis) and Michele Bent all had babies last year before deciding to pull the purple shirt of Melrose back on and play together in 2022.
Waters, 26, described the process of coaxing her body back into training and playing following the birth of son Mex.
"I feel like my limbs are not connected," Waters said.
"I know it sounds weird but your hips widen so it's just getting used to everything again and finding where everything is.
"They say it takes five years, hormonally, for your body to go back to normal after having a baby so it's a long period of time.
"It's not just growing the baby and giving birth, you've then got four years afterwards where your body's like 'what's wrong with me?'"
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Michele Bent, 28, is playing football for the first time in a decade, with daughter Mae, her second child, now seven months old.
"One of the other girls approached me and asked me if I'd like to come back and play," Bent explained.
"I was um-ing and ah-ing for quite a while because it's hard slotting in everything and then finding time, a couple of hours off, but I'm really glad I did because fitness-wise and socialising, it's been really nice.
"The support network probably wasn't there with my first but with my second, it definitely was, so it made it a lot easier to come back.
"It was also an age thing, thinking I've only got a few more years before my kids grow up and my Sundays become all about them.
"It's been lovely, the girls have been really welcoming and it's been nice to step away from just being a Mum and doing something else.
"Mentally, you need a break so it's really nice to do that and incorporate exercise at the same time."
Melinda Wilson agrees, although her footballing experience has changed forever since the arrival of daughter Scarlett last March.
"You still plan around the kids, you've still got to make sure everything is prepped and ready, just so that you can go away for two hours," the 25-year-old said.
"It gives us a new appreciation for our parents and what they did to get us there every Sunday, now we're on the other side of it.
"I can't run as fast as I used to. I think I can speak for all of us when I say I was in a lot of pain after the first game.
"Everything was hurting but it was an easy decision to come back and play because I really missed soccer and exercise in general. I hadn't exercised in two years."
For Waters, pulling the boots back on seemed inevitable.
"I had a lot of sister pressure more than anything," she laughed.
"But I wanted to come back anyway.
"That was the first year I'd had off since I was six, so it's just part of life and you don't really think about it.
"On a Sunday you go to soccer, on a Wednesday, you train, that's how it's always been.
"I would have felt like I was missing out."
Melrose have won five of their first six games back in Division 1 but it's not been an easy ride.
"My body's still not doing what I want it to," Bent admitted.
"I have to concentrate on things more than I used to.
"Before, it was just second nature, whereas now I really need to put energy into making sure I can do it.
"Fitness-wise, that's a whole year off, so it hits you pretty hard.
"Before games, I'm like 'is my phone on loud in case they need me?' but I'm like 'they'll be fine, it's just two hours.'
"You come home and the bedtime routine's been done for you, which is pretty nice."
There's a freedom about running onto the field which Waters is loving more than ever.
"It's hard because you spend your whole day planning things around them; what they're going to do, what they're going to eat, when they're going to go to sleep, so to have that time is good," Waters said.
"It's an hour-and-a-half you don't have to think about them, it's time to yourself.
"I think I value it more now because you know how much planning goes into actually getting here and making it happen.
"Even with the game on the weekend, it's a lot of prep to be able to have that time and to know that everything will be fine."
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