Reportedly a dab hand at origami, Everton and England midfielder Jill Scott is hoping that her feet that make an impression for club and country this year, with the FA Women’s Super League and FIFA Women’s World Cup trophies firmly in her sights.
Born in Sunderland, Scott played for her hometown club after facing an early career choice. A skilled and successful long-distance athlete, she had to make a decision between pursuing her running talents or her footballing skills. Her judgement has proved to be sound with her career taking off after transferring to Everton in 2006. Having risen through England’s youth ranks, she is now an established player and one of the few in the country to be given a contract by the Football Association.
England’s newly-formed Super League (WSL) began on Wednesday and attracted almost 5,000 spectators across its first round of four matches. The opening fixture between Chelsea and Arsenal was televised, while Scott herself featured in an enthralling match against Merseyside rivals Liverpool. Everton needed a last-minute equaliser to earn a point in a 3-3 draw and although the 24-year-old was disappointed with the result after the Toffees bossed the game, she hopes the entertainment on show will prove enough to entice supporters back.
“From our point of view, it felt like we could have maybe defended better and at the other end put away our chances,” the 24-year-old told FIFA.com. “But I’m sure for the neutrals it was good, there are not many games you go to and there are six goals.”
Once the game had finished, Liverpool players applauded their counterparts off the pitch and the players from both teams were happy to interact with fans, sign autographs and speak to the media. A crowd of around 850 attended the match and Scott, scorer of Everton's second, admitted she never imagined playing in front of that many people for such an occasion five years ago.
“I think the progression in the sport has been really good over the past five years and today has shown the support is great for both teams. It was really good; it was just a pity we couldn’t get the result that we wanted today.”
Players focused on preparation
England, on the other hand, will be determined to get the right results when they take part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany in June and July. Under the stewardship of coach Hope Powell, the national team has been growing in stature over the past few years and is considered to be among the favourites for this summer's tournament. A recent 2-1 win over USA in April has only increased expectations but Scott, who has been capped 44 times and scored five goals, is preaching caution.
"We were really pleased with that result, but I think it’s all stepping stones in preparation for the World Cup,” she warned. “It didn’t feel like a friendly when we played it, it was 11 v 11 and it was a very competitive game. To get the result that we wanted needed a great week of preparation beforehand. We worked really hard on and off the training pitch in order to make sure we got that result.
“We don’t want to peak too early; we’ve got to look to the future and show that we can do it when the World Cup starts. Obviously the result against USA is great but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we realise that’s the tournament that we actually want to do well in.”
However the FIFA Women’s World Cup works out for the Three Lions, 2011 will be remembered as a landmark year for the women’s game in England.
WSL has been a long time in coming but could herald a new era domestically, while internationally, Scott and her team-mates may be on the verge of achieving something special.
“It’s a massive year, we always said 2011 was going to be," she said. "We have waited for this Super League to happen for a long time, we had a long pre-season. I think we’re just glad now that’s it finally underway. And with the World Cup as well it couldn’t be a better year for women’s football.”