Jill Scott returns to her roots

Former England women's footballer Jill Scott
Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Lionesses partner Xero has released a short film with Jill Scott and Rachel Brown-Finnis, highlighting the importance of financial investment and sustainability in women’s grassroots football.

The film sees Jill take friend and former England teammate, Rachel, back to the club that helped kick off her professional football journey, Sunderland Women. Starting her senior career in 2004, Jill joined Sunderland at the age of 18, before going on to join Everton in 2006. In the film, she reflects on how special it feels to be back at The Academy of Light and how much has changed since she trained there.

Discussing these changes with her former teammate and current Sunderland Head Coach, Melanie Reay, the pair look back on how they used to have to train in front of car headlights on a field in the back of the grounds – reflecting the lack of investment in the women’s sport at the time.

Both Jill and Rachel highlight how much positive change there has been since then and the opportunities that are available for young women who are now looking to pursue a career in professional football. An upbeat Jill explains that more can be done and that they are still “trying to encourage more girls to play football, and if we can keep investing in grassroots football, it has such a massive knock-on effect.” In support of this, Rachel adds that “when clubs are well financially managed, it allows the game to grow.”

The film has been released as part of Xero’s mission to champion women’s football and highlight the importance of financial viability at all levels of the game. Xero works closely with the FA Grassroots Team, County Football Associations, and the FA Club Consultants to provide access to a comprehensive range of educational resources for clubs’ financial management. It also provides a platform for grassroots clubs to find and connect with local accountants and bookkeepers.

Jill Scott said: “I’m so excited for the future of women’s football and where it’s going to go next. The support for the game is phenomenal, but to ensure this continues we need to see even more participation and more investment in it. Ultimately, increased financial support and management means more opportunities for female footballers and clubs to do what they do best.”

John Coldicutt, Marketing Director at Xero, added: “It’s a privilege to be able to work with inspiring women like Jill Scott and Rachel Brown Finnis, who are driving support for the women’s game. The future is bright for the game, but the financial viability of clubs at every level is vital to get even more women into the sport. The aim of this film is to share Jill’s story and the role of a club, such as Sunderland, in supporting her on her journey to becoming a Lioness.”

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