People and prosperity

Becoming a leader: integrity goes a long way

Liverpool Ladies FC Captain Gemma Bonner on getting over disappointment and empowering the next generation of female leaders

Tell us how you got into football?

Growing up all I ever wanted to do was play football, so for it now to be my job is really a dream come true. I started kicking a ball as soon as I could walk and continued playing while at school. I joined my first local team aged seven. I then got selected for Leeds United Centre of Excellence where I played against the best teams across the country. It was while playing for Leeds that I was scouted for England, aged 13. I felt that was my first real break in the sport, along with becoming professional at Liverpool Ladies FC (LLFC) in 2014. Becoming captain of LLFC was a very special moment for me too – it’s an honour I am extremely proud of.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced (in sport or life)? How did you overcome it?

Football itself is a very challenging environment and can be testing at times. One of the biggest challenges I faced growing up was not being selected to play matches. I was disappointed, but instead of dwelling on it for too long I focused on what I was going to do to become a better player.

Gemma with her parents after LLFC won the Women's Super League title in 2014

Gemma with her parents after LLFC won the Women’s Super League title in 2014

The best advice you have ever received?

Never be afraid to make mistakes. The important lesson is to learn from them to become better at whatever you do.

What makes a good leader?

Someone who is effective, honest and a good communicator. It’s also important to gain the respect of your peers.

Who’s your biggest inspiration?

My parents, who have supported me every step of the way and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

How can we empower more girls to be leaders?

Give girls confidence and put them in an environment where they feel their honest opinion is valued. Also, make them feel like they can be the person they want to be.