This month, we announced former professional footballer and TV pundit Alex Scott MBE as our newest Vitality Ambassador. As an Ambassador, Alex will use her breadth of experience and passion for team sports to inspire people to get active and provide them with achievable steps to make positive changes to their health, and be part of Vitality’s ongoing commitment to supporting women in sport.
We spoke to Alex about how she got into competitive sports, her advice for aspiring female athletes and what challenges there are as a woman in sports.
Have you found there has often been a certain stigma around football and women, particularly in punditry?
From when I started in the game to now, I’ve seen a massive difference and change. Brands like Vitality are helping to change the perception of women’s sports, and it is great that young girls have female role models to aspire to be like. It’s not like you have to be a certain way or be a tomboy, or you have to dress a certain way to play football – no, just like in life, everyone comes in all different shapes, sizes and physiques. It’s about being passionate about something that you love and having dreams and aspirations that you can go on and achieve things.
Visibility does matter, and we need to keep showing people that there are strong, confident women out there and in our lives. That’s what I want young girls in school to aspire to be like.
How did you get into playing football and sports?
I had an older brother, and I wanted to be like him. I used to go and play football with the boys in the neighbourhood, and that’s where my dream started. I wanted to play at Wembley and in World Cups. I think it’s amazing because it was a dream and, yes, I managed to achieve it, but the fact that the game is now fully professional, and people can make a career out of it is fantastic. I remember my mum’s friends used to laugh at her when she said, ‘Alex wants to be a footballer!’, so it’s great.
What advice would you give to young aspiring women in sport?
In anything in life, it’s not a smooth ride to the top – it does require hard work and you’ve got to be passionate about what you do, and ultimately love what you do. When people see me when I’m playing and on TV, you can’t wipe the smile off my face because I love talking and having conversations about what I do. Ultimately, I would say to just think of me as that young girl who started playing because I loved it and I was smiling, so just love and enjoy what you do!
How have you found it getting into punditry compared to getting into playing football?
When I was still playing at Arsenal, I knew what I wanted my career to be. Some were trying to push me into management and coaching, but I knew that I love having conversations and trying to bring the best out of other players around me. So that inspired me to get a media degree and go and work for it. People see me where I am now, but they don’t see the process or what it takes to actually get there.
It was so much hard work – I remember running from the training field to get to the studio in the last two years of my career, when I was working with the BBC and appearing on shows. I just think, no matter what the road there is, it’s got to be worthwhile. And now when people see me, they do think there’s a path for them, which I absolutely love.
What has your proudest moment of your career either as a player or a pundit been?
Oh that’s so hard! I say ‘Wembley’, and people are like ‘not the quadruple in 2007?’ But I remember being that young girl whose dream it was to play at Wembley. To go there and win the FA Cup in my club that I started at – I signed for Arsenal when I was 8 – to walk up those stairs and lift the FA Cup was my dream. I remember getting really emotional about it because it was that moment.
What support could be put in place to help the profile of women’s football, in your opinion?
This is why I’m so passionate about Vitality getting on board, because they know that visibility matters – people need to be seeing their female role models and it needs to be in people’s faces, so we need to see more brands getting involved to push the sport to where it needs to be and to normalise it.
Looking for some more inspiration from empowering women in sports? We spoke to retired Olympic swimmer and Vitality Performance Champion, Lizzie Simmonds, about her successes, competing and how to encourage young athletes.
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