Image: James Boyes, Flickr
Alex Scott plays right-back for the women’s Arsenal football team and has 100 England Lioness caps under her belt making her one of the most decorated female football players. She is also the vice-captain of the England team that won bronze at the Women’s World Cup earlier this year. I met Alex at The Balfour Beatty London Youth Games Hall of Fame and Annual Awards to talk to her about how much of an impact her team’s performance in the Women’s World Cup in Canada has had on the game.
As I meet Alex, she is wearing a beautiful white dress and high heels and I comment on how on earth she lasted dinner without spilling something down her front (which I would most certainly have done). She admits that she was worried about being clumsy but she thought she’d brave it and we are in mutual agreement that when you spend much of your life in sportswear, it’s good to dress up once in a while.
As we are at the London Youth Games Awards dinner that celebrates local London boroughs and the sporting achievements of their young residents, I begin by asking how football was suggested to Alex as a child remarking that when I was school, the sport wasn’t an option for girls.
“I think this is where things have changed because when I was young, you got into football because you had an older brother and wanted to play like him. I think now, off the back of the Women’s World Cup and the success of the Olympics, young girls don’t need that older brother, they see us on TV and think “OK, I want to be a footballer”.
When Alex was growing up she based her football aspirations on the male role models at the time but is encouraged that now there are women that young girls can relate to. She remarks:
“I Used To Look Up To Ian Wright But Now Girls Can Say, I Want To Be Like Rachel Yankey”
It’s hard to gloss over the impact that Alex and her team’s performance in the Women’s World Cup has had on the visibility of women’s football. I ask her how she feels about being so instrumental in the development of the women’s game here in the UK. Alex of course is proud but also warns that we mustn’t get too complacent.
“I think it opened a lot of new doors to new people that were never interested before and there is genuine interest in the game but we can’t sit here and relax, we just need to keep driving the sport forward. There was also this interest in 2012 after the Olympics and then we didn’t really do much with it so it plateaued a bit and now we’ve got it back we need to keep it here and keep pushing it forward.”
And how do we spread the movement, and get more young girls and older women to take it up? How would someone go about getting started? Surely it is intimitating walking into a club of a sport that is historically so masculine and asking to join in? Alex assures me that it’s really quite simple.
“There are so many leagues and teams that you can join as a hobby and no matter what level you are at, you can still go and play. My best friend who I grew up with who is in her thirties plays for her local team and she loves it. When I go and watch her, it’s just like when she comes to support me, I’m out there in the stands cheering her local Enfield team because she just loves playing football, it doesn’t matter what level she’s at, she just loves the game.”
Alex has just signed a new contract with Arsenal and wants to focus on her game and start building towards the next European Championships. On the topic of her relationship with football, I ask her what her favourite goal has been so far:
“I scored the Championship goal that won Arsenal the Champions League so that’s a trophy that we had never won and no one’s ever won to date in the women’s game.”
I ask her what the women’s equivalent of pulling your shirt over your head to celebrate a fantastic goal is and whether the women’s game has any established celebration rituals. Alex admits that the women’s teams don’t celebrate well enough when they achieve great results.
“We’re really bad at celebrating. One of my friends plays for Chelsea and before the game I said, if you win it, just enjoy it. When I won with Arsenal, we never actually went crazy and celebrated the occaison. I think it’s hard though because when you win, there’s always that next game hanging over us so you never have the chance to just go wild.”
Obviously at SportStylist, we had to end the interview with some kit advice from Alex for women who want to get into football and aren’t sure what to buy. On the topic of boots, Alex explained that she wears Puma EvoSPEED but that different position have different styles of boots and they also vary according to what turf you’re playing on so that’s something to bear in mind when shopping around.
We wish Alex and her team mates the best for their next season and I personally can’t wait till we see the Lionesses on our screens again.