Monday 22, October 2012
In Focus: Jill Scott
JILL SCOTT is all smiles. The
Sunderland-born midfielder has just finished playing in the Women’s Super
League’s sophomore season and has a jam-packed year to look back on.
figure in Hope Powell’s England team and a member of the third-placed Everton
Ladies, Jill also capped the season with a place on the Team GB Olympic football squad. These are exciting times to be involved with the women's game, something Jill is more than aware of.
“The last few years have just been a whirlwind to be honest," she says. "In six years I’ve played in two World Cups, a European Championships and an Olympic Games. It’s definitely a career highlight to have played in so many major tournaments."
She was also named in the squad of the tournament following last summer’s Women’s World Cup after an impressive performance which helped England reach the Quarter Finals.
A regular for club and country, Jill Scott breathes football. But despite an impressive number of appearances, she isn’t signed to a professional contract. The WSL is a semi-professional league, with the majority of its players juggling part time jobs alongside their club training.
Despite playing for a
Merseyside team, Jill still lives in Sunderland, where she works at the
Gateshead Academy. When it comes to training and matches, she drives across the
country. Commuting over 150 miles is tough, and it has prompted the player to
consider her future.
“My future’s a bit up in the air at the moment,” Jill muses.
“I do face a bit
of a decision at the end of this season just with the amount of travelling and
stuff, and now that I’m 25 I feel that my peak years are coming up so I want to
give myself the best possible chance of being the best player I can be.
Former England captain Mo Marley has also recently stepped
down from a ten year managerial reign with the Blues, and it was Mo who brought
Jill to Merseyside in the first place.
“I got coached by Mo at England Under 19s and I had so much respect for her, she’s a great coach. She approached me at a time when I felt it was right to leave Sunderland, and I was always going to say yes.”
Post Olympic fever, attitudes towards women’s football have become increasingly more positive, and the sport now receives media coverage on a regular basis. Jill hopes that the game will progress as the seasons continue, with WSL attendances rising and more games getting shown on television.
Attitudes may be positive now, but it’s not always been smooth sailing as a female player. Jill’s first club was Fulwell, where she played for a boy’s team at the age of seven, and it didn’t go down too well with everyone.
“I remember I used to get a bit of grief off the parents,
they always used to say, ‘Kick that girl!’,” Jill remembers.
“The boys were
really supportive, I think they just treated me as one of the lads. It was more
the parents – I think they didn’t want to see their kids getting beaten by a
There was more upset to come. “I got told that I couldn’t play for the boys team anymore when I was nine and I remember going home crying, I thought I might have to take up netball or something. Luckily my Mam found me a girls team which was local and the manager was lovely, he used to come pick us up and everything.”
A decade and a half later, Jill is on the verge of becoming
a household name. Well, almost. During the past season she has taken on the
role of Digital Media Ambassador for Everton as well as writing a monthly
column for BBC Sport.
Each of the WSL clubs nominated a Digital Media
Ambassador who would wear their Twitter username (@JillScott12, if you’re
wondering) on their shirt and take charge of the club’s social media pages, as
a way to connect with fans.
Jill champions the importance of social media to the women’s game.
"We’ve had quite a lot of feedback and it’s certainly an area that we can look at a bit more next year. I love Twitter, I’m on it all the time and you receive so many messages. It’s also a way to give people an insight into your life. People notice that we do work really hard and I think we get a lot of positive feedback for that.”
The off-season sees Jill returning to Gateshead to coach at the Academy. “I do love coaching - I like going into schools and stuff and doing sessions, I love working with kids. I remember when I was younger and there would be an England player coming along to a session and you just wanted to impress them, so it’s great now being in a position where I can make a group of girls smile just because they’ve gone to a session.”
Football-loving girls all over the country will get to see
their heroes in action again next summer as the England squad travel to the
European Championships in Sweden.
Jill fired her team to automatic
qualification, scoring first as they beat Croatia 3-0 last month to top their
group, and she’s hopeful that this time they’ll pick up some silverware. She
says, “I’d like to think we have a good chance in the Euros, last time we made
it to the final and got a silver medal but it’s going to be very difficult. Obviously there are top teams involved and it all depends how you play on the
Perhaps 2013 could be the year that an English national team finally wins a major tournament. But trophy or not, it’s prime time for the England ladies to truly win the hearts of the nation.
By Kirsty Allen
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