When England take on the world’s number-one ranked side in Tuesday’s Fifa Women’s World Cup semi-final, they will also be up against two Englishwomen at the very top of the sport.
The United States’ Hampshire-born head coach Jill Ellis and Newcastle-born high performance coach Dawn Scott are integral to the holders’ bid for a fourth world title.
Ellis and Scott have worked together for nine years in varying capacities. Their childhoods lacked opportunities to play competitive girls football, so how did they progress to become global leaders in their fields?
If I’d stayed in England I might not be coaching – Ellis
Ellis, 52, grew up near Portsmouth, having being born when women’s football was still banned in England by the Football Association.
“I grew up playing with boys in the yard: with my brother in the backyard and boys in the schoolyard. I just loved the sport, loved the game,” Ellis said.
“I truly think if I’d have stayed in England, I’m not sure I’d would be in coaching.
“At the time, it was not even a career path. It was a rare career path in the States but it wasn’t a career path [in England] for sure.”
But that changed after she moved to the USA in the 1980s.
“I was just fortunate to move to the States and have an opportunity to play organised football as we know it,” said Ellis.
“What America gave me was the dream, the opportunity and the ability to follow that path.”