READY, AIM, FIRE: Alex Scott in action for Arsenal Ladies
LAST MONTH we celebrated a range of women from all walks of life doing extraordinary things as part of International Women’s Month.
Alex Scott, captain of the Arsenal ladies team, certainly fits into that description of a woman doing extraordinary things.
As it stands, 32-year-old Scott has already done enough to retire immediately; however she still continues to climb to higher heights in full view of football fans and female equity advocates alike.
Possessing the incredibly good fortune that results in career satisfaction, Scott was first signed to Arsenal since the ripe old age of eight years old; honing both her footie and leadership skills on the pitch, whilst most of her peers spent their time watching Nick Toons or bugging their parents for the latest Barbie doll.
“I’ve grown-up at the club”, exclaims a humble and upbeat Scott, who speaks about the early days and what lead her to being signed to a Premier League team so young.
“Literally, that (play football) was what I wanted to do! Rushing home and begging my older brother and his friends to let me play with them…dreaming of being at Wembley!", she laughs.
The inevitable question of how it felt to enter what has always been a predominantly male world in the early 1990s pops up, to which Scott answers:
LETTING HER HAIR DOWN: Alex Scott at the PFA Player of the Year Awards
“There were no female role models for me in the media, no poster girls. My go-to was Ian Wright! I loved his energy, his passion for the game and the fact that he was always smiling.”
Beyond Meadow Park, Scott’s star is rising in full view of her fellow Arsenal family and club alumni. A budding media career has seen Scott present television programmes including Soccer AM and London Live’s Jimmy Bullard Kicks Off plus appearances on the BBC documenting her charitable work with children in Iraq. After her retirement from football, Scott is certain about a career on the small screen:
“I want to transition into media smoothly and start presenting on a lot more shows. The world has seen women’s football grow and I want to show people that we (women) love the game just as much.”
Enjoying her time in front of audiences, Scott refers to a sobering moment with her childhood football hero at Arsenal’s Emirates:
“I sat down with Ian Wright at a Q&A I hosted with him and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal’s Diamond Club and he listened to all these different stories from my childhood - we laugh about it now!”
Counting Ian Wright among her mates is not the only indication that Scott has reached the upper echelons of English football, despite her participation in the ongoing battle to see women’s clubs reach a level of parity with men’s when it comes to exposure and financing:
“For us, women’s football has come so far.
“When I left here (England) in 2009 to play for the Boston Breakers, women’s football wasn’t professional so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity; but now the game is growing.
“It’d be great to get paid as much as the men, I’m not gonna lie but we have to be realistic and ask ourselves, ‘do we get the same crowd?’ which would warrant getting paid equally.
“We can always do more. Every year, more commercial money is flowing into women’s football which helps us to push it and strive for more.
“The most important thing for women’s football is not to secure more money at the moment - the whole media aspect is huge. People have to see the girls on the pitch, it’s about putting the product out there in people’s faces.
“The Football Association (FA) have seen the growth in women’s football and they’ve been the ones to push it and support us.”
Well aware of her own visibility, Scott herself wants to present herself as an authentic example of a women in football for all the young girls who are looking for their own sporting role models:
“We have to be careful how we use the term ‘role model’ because when we do we’re often painting a picture of someone that’s perfect but it’s about being yourself.
“Now, you do get a lot of girls wanting the play - that’s the change in women’s football. We’re paving the way for the next generation.
“Our sport is so important. It teaches you so many transferrable skills, there is so much to learn so I would say to parents who have daughters wanting to play, ‘you have to allow your kids to follow their dreams’.”
Passionate and forthright about the importance of practicing personal development at every level of one’s journey, the camera-ready captain says:
“You have to be willing to work hard in life and keep learning because things change, sports science evolves. When I played in Boston I had to be willing to learn new recovery methods so I could feel stronger more quickly after matches.”
In 2016 Scott shared even more about changes to her body when she posed naked for Women’s Health magazine.
Confident and strong, Scott spoke to the magazine about the importance of good eating habits and the impact they can have.
“My body shape has transformed as sports science research has developed” she says. “It used to be thought that footballers needed to be big and do lots of weights and little cardio.
“Now that thinking has changed and I'm leaner and more athletic, and nutrition has become more important. When I was younger, my food and fitness were less controlled – I just loved football.”
Counting her mother Carol McKee as her own number-one role model, Scott says:
“My mum has gone from being kind of embarrassed that her daughter plays football to updating her friends who now want to know what else I’m doing and what’s coming next.
“My mum was always supportive of what I wanted to do though. She allowed me to go and play games and get me to wherever I needed to be. One of my mum’s messages to me, throughout my career has stayed at the forefront of my mind, even now - ‘stay true to yourself’.”
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