Aberdeen Women teen defender Madison Finnie has had to learn the hard way recently.
The 17-year-old was shown her first red card a fortnight ago in a SWPL defeat to Hibernian, who Aberdeen Women come up against in the Sky Sports Cup on Sunday.
A visibly upset Finnie was embraced by her team-mates after the match at Meadowbank, but it was difficult for the teenager not to feel like she had let them down.
But the young defender now views the sending off as another learning curve in what could be a promising career.
Finnie broke onto the scene last term – making her SWPL debut at only 15 years old – and has made 29 appearances in all competitions for the Dons to date.
There have been plenty of ups and downs, the defender says, all of which she has learnt from.
“Your first red card is always going to be tough – especially at my age,” said Finnie.
“It was mentally quite tough, but having the girls around me and speaking to Clint (Lancaster), he said it was just a learning experience and one to take on board.
“It did feel like a bit of a mental challenge to overcome and it was probably good to have the international break soon after because I got away from club football and had a different focus which was good.
“You are always going to have those kind of hard moments in football.
“Even towards the end of the games it’s just trying to persevere. It’s a good challenge for me to be exposed to at such a young age, and gain all these different experiences now.”
Embracing experiences to help future prospects
Finnie hopes those difficult moments will benefit her in the future as she has her sights set on making a career in the game.
She is certainly on course to achieve her ambitions, with the Scotland U19 international signing her first semi-professional deal at Aberdeen this summer.
“I always knew I wanted to do this, but having Clint come in full-time has helped me realise it more and this season has just been a bit of an eye-opener,” said Finnie.
“You want to play all the time. I love playing, but I do know it’s about trying to keep learning and hopefully keep moving in the right direction.
“With Clint coming in, I have just been trying to soak up everything he says and all the information and then working on that.
“Last season was my first season with the senior team and I just wanted to get as much game time as I could, but this season I want to keep on developing and learning even more.
“When I come up against the professional and international players, I want to try and match them. I do my research to find out their strengths and weaknesses.
“I want to show my best against them and that’s all I can really do. I try to learn from my mistakes and just embrace all the challenges of playing in this league.”
A closer team at Aberdeen this season
As well as Lancaster taking the reins on a full-time basis, Finnie believes another big change this season has been a positive shift in the team’s culture.
“We’ve increased the standards and things feel a bit more professional which has brought us closer as a team,” said Finnie.
“Off the pitch, too, on the bus journeys to games it’s been really good fun and hopefully that continues for the rest of the season.”
Finnie has been taken under the wing of her Dons team-mates, which she feel has greatly benefited her during her transition from youth to senior football.
“Jess (Broadrick) plays in the same kind of position as me so understands that side of it, and Eilidh (Shore) and Bayley (Hutchison) have helped me a lot,” added Finnie.
“Off the park, Bayley is always there for me to speak to and Eilidh is a good leader on and off the pitch. On the pitch, she keeps you right and motivates you and off the pitch she’s just so nice and you know you can always go to her.
“Nadine (Hanssen) being captain as well, she’s got so much experience and is someone you know you can always go to.”