There is a story often told of two brothers, one a drug addict on the street and the other a well regarded surgeon with a wife and children. On being
asked why his life was the way it was the first brother said “..it was my father, he beat me and made our lives hell, that’s why”. The second brother
was asked the same question and he replied “...it was my father, he beat me and made our lives hell, that’s why”. One had a reason and one had
an excuse for the way their lives had turned out.
John Lennon said that “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. There are people who march to the beat of a different drum,
those who see adversity as their friend, who embrace their past and use it for good - and one of the people leading that march is Alex Scott.
Born on the notorious Tower Hamlets council estate in the East End of London, Alex lived in a single parent flat, in a crime ridden area and with little
but a football cage on a concrete surface to entertain. To many this is an excuse - but to Alex this was and is a reason: a reason to appreciate
what she has, a reason to acknowledge where she has come from and a reason to live the way she does.
No matter which way the conversation went it always came back to the same fundamentals: appreciation, remembering her roots and the opportunities given
For Alex her formative years are priceless - the shared community spirt along with the challenges that have made her who she is. It is so easy for
those in the limelight to try and hide or diminish their past, but her approach is the opposite. For her it is about acknowledging that she is
who she is because of her experiences. This is such a positive way to approach life and these experiences - and Alex has not only embraced it but
has an ability to make it contagious to those listening. She makes you want to look at things in a different way to the way we are so often conditioned
to looking at things.
She speaks of each story and experience with enthusiasm and looks at it in such a refreshing way. This is summed up when she talks about “...the contrast
between going into a shop to buy Puma Kings and now being sponsored by them and getting boots for the Cup final with my name and the date on them.
It’s not lost on me.” This is a humble athlete who is sponsored by a major brand, who can have what she wants and yet she has maintained that connection
to where she has come from and doesn’t push the boundaries and demand all sorts of things. As she said, “I feel cheeky asking for things.” What
a great and refreshing thing to hear in a world that so often wants to take.
This is someone incredibly aware of what her status has brought her but so, so grounded. It’s a pleasure to observe and listen to. This is the fascinating
thing for me about Alex: it’s about everything other than her. She acknowledges that she can play well, but she will straight away say, “I wouldn’t
be here if it wasn’t for the opportunities people gave me,” or “Football has given me so many opportunities.” It’s difficult to put into words
the feeling that comes across when she speaks to you, but it is one of a person who is completely comfortable with themselves and their history
and completely earthed in the knowledge of their past, yet grateful for what it has given them.
“My mum struggled to buy me the boots I needed,” Alex said of the early days playing football - and yet she is clear she wouldn’t change it for the
world. “I’m proud of where I come from, it makes me who I am,” she says. It is this that has driven her to want to connect and give back to the
next generation, to girls who, as she puts it “….aren’t at elite level but still want to be on the ball and get an education.” Alex set
up an academy (The Alex Scott Academy) in partnership with Kingston college because she wanted to give back, to give people an opportunity just
like she’d had.
The thing that is so interesting is that Alex has a desire to encourage, support and provide opportunities for girls who may never be elite level athletes.
It seems that Alex is very aware of all the girls who fall outside of elite level sport. It doesn’t make them any less passionate and this is a
mark of Alex’ character as a person, that she sees the big picture and wants to encourage everyone, connecting and supporting wherever she can.
As she says “…the academy gave me focus and I want to give them that opportunity.” The easy road to travel is working with elite players,
but she has always walked the road less travelled so why change now?
It’s no different to her work with Street Child World Cup. She explained of her trip to Brazil that “...we connected via the universal language of
football.” She didn’t go as a hotshot football player, she went into the favela’s and got onto the pitch and just played with the kids.
Nothing sums Alex up better than her own words: “I’m just the girl from Tower Hamlets”, and her mantra that she lives by: “...never forget, never take
for granted because you never know when the journey will end”.
Editor’s note: a short while after spending time with Alex on location for the photo-shoot and the interview she was involved in a major car crash that she was told she was lucky to have come out of alive. It once again shows how fragile life can be and Alex’s mantra of “don’t look too far into the future, appreciate now,” is truer than ever. In the same way, those of us on the other side of the fence can celebrate these remarkable athletes and enjoy what they give us now.