Jill Scott has done more than most to help the growth of women’s football in England – and she has thrown her weight behind Girls’ Football Week as she hopes to boost interest further.
The 31-year-old is one of only 10 players to have earned 100 caps for the Lionesses and she has scored a number of crucial goals along the way, in World Cups and European Championships.
Scott has had an impact off the pitch, too. The Manchester City star runs the Jill Scott Girls’ Soccer School which is targeted at youngsters aged 6-16.
And she believes Girls’ Football Week, which starts on Monday 23 April, will allow female players to flourish.
Scott said: “Things like this are crucial to get young players into the game and help them to realise that football is as much a sport for them as it is boys.
“Women’s football is just getting bigger and better and it’s a privilege to be a part of it, especially during weeks like this.”
Scott’s interest in football was sparked by playing alongside her dad and brother when she was six.
She started out at her hometown club Sunderland before joining Everton in 2006.
Scott won The FA Women’s Premier League Cup and The FA Women’s Cup with the Toffees in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
The box-to-box midfielder signed for City in 2014 and helped Nick Cushing’s side win the Continental Cup later that year – before capturing a bronze medal with England at the Women’s World Cup in Canada.
She also scored in the Final as City won the SSE Women’s FA Cup at Wembley last May.
And she realises the difference her experience, ability and profile can make to the next generation.
Scott added: “I’ve been doing my soccer camps for the last few years. They’re for local girls in and around Gateshead and I’ve just started doing them in Manchester now as well.
“When I used to go to camps like that during the holidays I was always the only girl.
“But I can get up to 40 girls coming along to my camps which is fantastic.”
She continued: “There was a camp going on beside us one week. They had 35 boys and I had 40 girls. That was one of those moments when I realised how much women’s football has grown in this country.
“I always wanted to be outside playing and I’d go to the park with my brother and my dad at every opportunity.
“I can’t remember my life without football in it, so I’d just like to think that I’m giving young girls even more of an opportunity than I had, to play alongside other girls.
“It’s nice that I’ve got the chance to help those girls and offer them my advice.”