England captain Steph Houghton has praised the positivity of all connected with women's football in helping it becoming the fastest-growing sport in the country.
The Manchester City defender, 28, said the game is "in a really good place", with growing numbers of professional ladies' clubs and athletes.
The former Sunderland, Leeds and Arsenal player was recognised for her personal achievements in the game today when she received her MBE, along with England international team mate Fara Williams, at Buckingham Palace.
Steph, who comes from Durham, said: "When I started playing football as a youngster it was obviously just a hobby or something I enjoyed, I didn't really see it as becoming my job.
"I think over the last five years, with TeamGB and England at the last World Cup, the attitude has been really positive, and people want to get the women's game professional. It is in a really good place right now.
"Turning professional is starting to allow people to solely concentrate on football and we can be on the ball each day.
"In the future I think we want to get as many professional clubs as we possibly can and hopefully grow our league and create our own young internationals as well."
She said the women's FA Cup Final, league games and international matches all being televised has helped build the sport "in a sustainable way".
Speaking after being honoured by the Princess Royal at the investiture ceremony, Steph said the increased exposure to the women's game has resulted in its players taking on the added responsibility of being role models.
She said: "I try to be the best role model I can be, without taking away from who I am as a person.
"I pride myself on being a professional athlete, respecting people, and that comes from my parents. I just try to take that into my everyday work.
"We want to grow the women's game and get young girls playing, so that's something I think we all take seriously."