My 5 role models… with Bethany England

My 5 role models and the ways they inspired me

Totally Runable Ltd and See Sporty Be Sporty CIC are celebrating the release of their Role Models Poster Series; posters of awesome role model girls doing the sports that they love. They have sent these out to over 355,000 children, including every primary school in West and South Yorkshire, and every school who’s signed up to Totally Runable’s Girls and Sport Pledge. The team are passionate about putting more awesome female sporting role models in front of girls (and boys!) and to celebrate they have interviewed some awesome female athlete role models about the 5 people who inspired them.

Totally Runable’s Natalie Jackson spoke to Chelsea FC and England Lionesses striker Bethany England about her role models and the ways they inspire her.

My Mum

“I love my Dad to bits, but I’m picking my Mum as my first role model! I’ve been playing for 20 years, and she knows the basics, but I wouldn’t say she’s ever been into football. She knows when I’m playing well and when I’m not, but if I’m not on the pitch I’m not sure she cares if the team wins or loses. She just wants me to succeed and be the best version of myself.

I’ve always worked hard, which comes straight from my Mum. I’ve had so many jobs; a bakery, an Indian restaurant, Marks and Spencer’s, and a (really well paid) paper round that I did with my sister. I remember my parents sitting us down and saying, ‘we’re not going to do it for you’, but we never missed a day.

My Mum’s always been a grafter. She works for the NHS now, so throughout the pandemic she’s been one of those heroes working long hours. When we were kids she worked a pub shift at Dorothy Hyman Sports Centre while we were training, just to pay for us to keep going. She met my dad working in a pub too, and worked in petrol stations, and Marks and Spencer’s too! We weren’t well off, just a normal working class family. My Dad’s a roofer and he’s the same; they both worked for all we had. I’m in a very good position now with my work but it wasn’t just given to me. I so appreciate how they set me up for this and how hard they have helped me work to get where I am.”

Steven Gerrard

“When I was growing up almost all the football on TV was men’s football, and I was a big Liverpool FC fan. Gerrard was the Liverpool and England captain, and I loved his passion and leadership. I didn’t play in the same position as him, but I loved the way he played. I’ll never forget the 2005 Champions League Final in Istanbul, when Liverpool came from 3-0 down to win 4-3. Watching highlights of that game still makes the hairs on my arms stand up. I have a signed Steven Gerrard shirt that means a lot to me. He was such an icon for me growing up.”

Rachel Yankey

“Growing up, Rachel Yankey was one of the few women I remember seeing on TV playing football. She played for Arsenal, Fulham, Birmingham City and Notts County and was the first female professional player registered in England. At one time she was the most capped England player of all time. As a girl into football I was inspired by her generally, but even more inspired because of the awesome player she was. Yankey played in the same position I did, up front, and seeing a woman playing for England in my position was such a big inspiration for a little girl from Barnsley, especially when there were just so few other visible role models. She was just this unbelievable player, a left-footed genius. I loved watching her play, and without a doubt she was someone that inspired me.”

My best friend Charley Evans

“I’ve always worked rather than going out, which meant that a lot of my friendships growing up drifted a bit, but Charley has stuck with me no matter what, and been my go-to friend through the years. We grew up playing football together; she played for Leeds United when I played for Sheffield United, and then we played together at Barnsley College, where we travelled and played tournaments together. She then went on to play for Barnsley Women’s Football Club, so we’ve both played football all our lives.

Charley has always been someone I can talk to. She’s stuck by my side and always understood how busy my life can get. She’s not shy in telling you when she thinks you’re in the wrong either, which keeps me grounded!

Charley’s one of those people I’d love to do everything with; have kids at the same time and for them to grow up together too, although we’re not there yet. I’ve seen her go through times of injury, which thankfully I haven’t had to go through, and seen the way that she’s fought her way back physically and mentally. That’s been massively inspiring to me.”

Michelle Obama

“From a women’s empowerment perspective is there anyone better? I don’t know her personally, but she’s definitely a role model to me. I love watching interviews with her, especially with people like Ellen. What she has done for America and for the World is just awesome, and I love the way she conducts and carries herself. She paves the way for others with her fight for gender equality. The outfits she wears are so powerful and strong too. She’s powerful and feminine, which is such a great combination. A phenomenal woman and a phenomenal role model.”

Bethany England also appears on Episode 2 of See Sporty Be Sporty, the podcast hosted by the Totally Runable Ltd and See Sporty Be Sporty CIC teams, talking to female athletes about the importance of role models in their lives. Because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.