With International Women’s Day just around the corner, we interviewed a particularly inspiring woman who just so happens to be our Forever Living Ambassador!
Jill Scott, recently awarded an MBE, is a professional football player for England and Manchester City who has seen her fair share of challenges over the years. Curious to know how she’s overcome these challenges, as well as what keeps her focused and motivated, we sat down with Jill to get an understanding of who her own inspirations are and why she believes everyone should have a great role model to look up to.
Who inspired you to play football?
I always say that I never really made the decision to play football, I just always had a football at my feet. My family were always so supportive which I am really grateful for, and when I told my mum at 7 or 8 that I wanted to be a footballer she was probably thinking to herself ‘well, how is that going to happen?’ but she never let me give up on my dream.
When you were nine years old, you were told you weren’t allowed to continue playing on the boys’ team. What made you want to continue playing and how did you manage?
I just didn’t take no for an answer. I was quite a defiant child, so there was no way that I wouldn’t play. I am still a bit like that now, if I want to do something then I am doing it, and I think as an athlete you have to have that side to you. I wouldn’t like to think of it as selfish, but I think you have got to have that determination. I always knew that this is what I wanted to do, so when things looked like they were going to stop me; for example there being no girls teams for me to play for, and the boys giving you a bit of grief for playing football, I kind of just took it on the chin and looked for another option. So, I think that is the main thing: never take no for an answer.
Were there any other setbacks you overcame and how?
I think as I have got older, I have learned not to overthink things. Sometimes things can happen and you think ‘this is the worst thing in the world’ because this is your reality, but I think in the grand scheme of things, if you sit back and think about things logically, then 9 times out of 10 you can come up with a solution, so I do try to be a positive thinker. I am not saying that I don’t have days when I get down, but I just always try and think about the solution rather than the problem.
Who is your female role model?
A lot of young girls now are able to have female role models, especially in sport and football, whereas when I was younger, I didn’t really have any female role models that were footballers, because it wasn’t as popular as it was now.
My role models were actually athletes: Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliff, because I admire the dedication that they give to the sport, it’s incredible. Then watching Kelly Holmes win the double in the Olympics – that was a great moment for women in sport, so they are my inspiration.
Do you think it’s important for young women to have female role models in football?
Growing up, my role model in football was David Beckham - I just loved how he was a role model away from the pitch as well as on it, and I think that is something that I have always tried to be as well. When I am not playing, I’m making sure I am kind to people and someone they can look up to. I think as long as people have a role model, it doesn’t matter what their gender is. If it is someone that they look up to, see things that they aspire to be like, and to better themselves when they grow older, it doesn’t matter what sex they are.
Your soccer camps allow girls to express themselves and achieve their dreams – why was this so important to you to set these up?
When I was younger, I was the only girl and there would be about 30 boys, so you firstly had to overcome that, and try to prove yourself as a girl footballer. Then once you have overcome that, you can finally enjoy it. I set up a Soccer Camp for some girls and one of the parents said ‘she is just so much more confident now that she is here playing football with all the other girls, we have seen another side to her’. I think that is what made me keep he camp as girls only, but I think in the future, I would like to maybe coach boys as well as and girls. But it just felt right that I set this up for girls at this moment in time, because I wanted to give them more confidence; some girls weren’t even wanting to play football, but then when they knew that the camps were girls only and they could play and make new friends, it gave them a bit of confidence.
Do you have any other plans to expand what you are doing with the soccer camps?
I would love to expand them. At the minute it is just a matter of timing. I ran a couple of Soccer Camps over the half term, and I really enjoyed them – I probably enjoy them as much as the kids actually – and it’s just about passing on what I know. I have done quite a lot in my career and have learned a lot of lessons along the way so I think if I can just pass on little bits of advice that can help them in any way then it is a really rewarding thing to do. When I come away from those camps, I do feel really fulfilled with how the day has gone so there will definitely be plans to extend them in the future.
Do you see yourself as a role model for the girls you teach?
I don’t see it in that way, I still feel like that seven-year-old girl that loved to play football, I have just got a bit bigger and older, and it is still weird now. People ask for pictures and autographs and you get messages saying that you are inspirational, and it does feel surreal, but I will always give my time to everyone. I once read a quote that said: ‘always aim to inspire before you expire’ so I live by that, and I always try to be a role model every day.
Can you tell us a bit more about your MBE?
I haven’t collected it yet; I go middle of March to collect it and I think I am still in shock about it. It was a really nice Christmas present to hear that I was going to be getting one and to see some of the names that are going to be there. I went down to Westminster and met some of the people that are being awarded with these MBE and there were famous names, and there were also people with incredible stories. One of the women there was getting hers for getting girls into sport, and really going out of her way to put in the hours, even when no one was watching, just because she had this real passion to get girls into sports. So it was nice to meet her, because I suppose I am just the product of someone taking a chance on me when I was younger and I think listening to peoples’ stories was incredible. But it was a dead proud moment and I know my family are dead proud too.
You mentioned about meeting a lot of people with inspiring stories, you yourself are really inspiring, so how do you stay so down to earth?
I don’t really think about it like that to be honest. I would like to think that when people meet me, they think that I am very down to earth. I have done a few adverts recently for big brands, so people recognise me a little bit more, but I never think of myself as being bigger than anyone else. I think one thing is that I have got a lot of friends who work in different jobs, like in hospitals and work a 12 hour shift, seeing people that have had accidents and are poorly, and they are the people that should be getting the recognition, really whereas I just kick a ball around. We have so many incredible people that do amazing jobs out there that go unnoticed that I think they deserve more than they get, so that is what keeps me grounded.
We’ve teamed up with Jill Scott to launch a competition for International Women’s Day. Tell us in the comments below or on our social media channels which lady in your life inspires you, and most importantly, why they’re such an inspiration for the chance to win two of our Infinite By Forever Advanced Skincare Systems (one for you and one for the special lady in your life) as well as a luxurious spa day package for two AND a signed Jill Scott football shirt!