Sunderland born former Lioness Jill Scott opens Jarrow pitch to help grow women's football

The ‘Jill Scott Pitch’ was unveiled in a ceremony at the Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

Former Lioness Jill Scott has opened the first of 23 grassroots football facilities named after the Euro 2022 winning Lioness squad.

It is hoped the pitches, being built in or near the hometowns of the winning players will inspire the next generation of female stars.

The Jill Scott pitch was unveiled in a ceremony at the Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow alongside coaches and members of the local community who will benefit from the 3G pitch.

The new floodlit facility is just five miles from Jill’s hometown of Sunderland and will support the growth of female, disability and recreational football in the local area.

The ‘Jill Scott Pitch’ was unveiled in a ceremony at the Perth Green Community Centre. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

Scott said: “It’s so important, I trained just down the road from here, this is where my whole football journey started at Boldon girls.

"To be here today and to have a Jill Scott pitch name after me, it’s just a massive honour to be honest.

“Boys football always took priority and we always say about equal opportunities.

"I’m 36 now and I still feel like nine-year-old Jill when I’m running around, I hope I can help these now with their journey."

  • Video report by Rachel Bullock.

Some of the girls who were at the pitch opening told ITV Tyne Tees how excited they were to have a local pitch named after their hero, Jill Scott.

They said: "I just wanted to be like her automatically, I wanted to play like forever."

"It's really exciting."

"I’m proud because I play for the team she used to play for when she was younger and I feel like I can do it when I'm older"

For Jill opening the pitch is also a chance to return home to the North East, a region which also produce other Lionesses who were part of the winning Euros squad.

She added: "I love being home I really do, I’ve been in the North East for four days and honestly it’s such a friendly place the North East and they produce so many Lionesses.

"You’ve got Jordan Nobbs, Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes, and we always joke there’s something in the water but I think its just that passion for football.

“Winning the Women’s Euros was incredibly special and I hope, thanks to this recognition and funding from The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation, this pitch will benefit Lionesses of the future.“ 

Lionesses from the North East who were also in the winning Euros squad include Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs and Demi Stokes (in order). Credit: PA

The Euro 2022 winning England women's side were the first English football team to win a major trophy since 1966.

The Government, Premier League and the Football Association’s Football Foundation have named grassroots facilities in honour of the squad's achievements.

They form part of national efforts to raise the profile of women’s football at the elite level and increase access and participation for women and girls at the grassroots level.

The England women's side were the first English football team to win a major trophy since 1966. Credit: PA

The FA’s director of Women’s Football, Sue Campbell, said: “The England women’s team changed the landscape for the women’s and girls’ game when they lifted the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 trophy last year.

"The success of the team wasn’t just about lifting the trophy, it was also about changing the path for women and girls who want to or currently play football up and down the country.

“By 2024 The FA want to see 5,000 good-quality pitches added to the current number. With the Football Foundation, we are prioritising the areas and communities where these new pitches are most needed.

"This project allows us to provide more opportunities for people to play football across the region. Jill Scott has had an incredible career and no doubt inspired many people in her hometown to take up the game, so I’m sure the ‘Jill Scott pitch’ will be extremely popular.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “I’m delighted we are honouring Jill and the entire 23 woman squad as part of our £300 million investment in grassroots multi-sport pitches.

“The Lionesses thrilled the nation with their historic Euros victory, delivering the nation’s first major tournament win in more than 50 years.

“They have inspired a generation of women and girls to believe they too can achieve their dreams.”

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