Girls on the Ball is the go-to website for news and coverage on women’s football. Here, co-founder Rachel O’Sullivan interviews Jill Scott, Aston Villa star in the Women’s Super League, member of the England squad and Starling ambassador.
“To shape people’s lives with memories and moments” – that is what England stalwart Jill Scott is hoping to achieve with this summer’s pivotal UEFA Women’s EUROs, sponsored by Starling, as the official national banking partner.
Footballing memories are something Jill is not short of. Making her international debut 16 years ago, the Sunderland native has been involved in four World Cups, three European Championships and two Olympics. With over 150 England caps to her name, she is one of those that truly fall into the bracket of ‘legend’.
I first saw her play at Wembley a decade ago. Lining up for Team GB, she was just as dogged and energetic in the centre of midfield as she is now. At 35, Scott is still pulling the shirt on for both club and country and has every chance of making Sarina Wiegman’s squad this summer.
Jill is from a special generation of women players who had to pay to play the game they loved, a constant battle for support and recognition. Her career has seen the women’s game professionalise before her eyes and she herself has played an integral role.
The story of overcoming limitations in a male-dominated sport and that of Starling’s founder Anne Boden are similar. Fighting for gender equality and challenging the norms are a persistent theme. The parallels are not lost on Jill: “I think it’s fantastic. I think she was always pushing boundaries and very driven. I’m sure along the way she got told no and probably thought, ’Can I do this? Is it possible?’” But just like Jill, Anne was persistent. An important trait for smashing through glass ceilings.
Throughout her career, Jill has become a shining example for young boys and girls as well as her peers, including fellow Starling ambassador Lauren Hemp. To continue to grow the game and make strides, it is essential that we have more women in visible positions. As Jill says, “I didn’t even know if I could be a full-time women’s footballer. Now they [young girls] can go to games, they can see it, it’s a visual, and when they see it as a visual, they can dream it and aim to be there.”
Jill has always been a unique footballer, both in her style of play and her bubbly personality. In her company, you are hit by an infectious wave of energy and humour. Her enthusiasm has never visibly wavered throughout her career.
That too can be said for her exploits off the pitch where she holds another distinctive position, that of entrepreneur. Alongside her partner Shelly, Jill opened her own coffee shop Boxx2Boxx in April 2021.
Jill admits to being the type to do things on the spur of the moment, allowing her passions to drive her: “Just like I followed my passion for football when there wasn’t even a career in it, I had a passion for coffee and took the opportunity to run a shop. I think I’m one of those that just live in the moment.”
It won’t have been a surprise to those around her. Jill and coffee are a well-known duo in the footballing world. Rarely is the experienced midfielder seen without a cup in her hand and her search on every England camp for the perfect coffee shop is well documented. To embark on such an adventure while continuing her career as a professional footballer can’t have been easy.
But Jill Scott is also a Starling business customer and this has been a help. Tools, such as Starling’s banking app, have been a lifeline for her: “I think [with] banks in the past, you’ve had to wait for days to access information, or it would be a journey out of your way. I just don’t have the time to do that. I can access the app wherever I am. It definitely reflects my life.”
With a home EUROS on the horizon and a World Cup next year, it’s likely Jill will be ‘on the go’ for some time and she will need Starling as much as she will copious amounts of coffee. There’s no question that this tournament will be another milestone in her career and a historic moment in this England team’s history.
Jill is filled with anticipation at the prospect: “I hope that the team can go out there and help shape other people’s lives with memories and moments and put on a show that the rest of the world can be proud of and say, ‘what did I do in 2022?’ I watched the UEFA Women’s EUROs.”