iCanPlay: Gemma Bonner Q&A
Tell us about how and why you got involved in playing football?
I had always loved to kick a ball around since a young age then I started to play football at school in the playground and joined my first team aged 7 – Leeds City Vixens.
I was then recommended to trial for Leeds United Academy at 9 but the youngest age group they had was U12s.
Who have you played football for and who do you play for now?
Started at Leeds City Vixens playing grassroots football while also playing for Leeds United Academy.
When I was 10 I signed for Leeds United (in the local league) all the way up to the first team.
When Leeds weren’t part of the new Women’s Super League I left aged 19 to sign for Chelsea whilst still living in Leeds, I just travelled.
After 2 years at Chelsea, I signed for Liverpool and was there for 6 years before leaving for Manchester City.
After 3 years in Manchester, I decided to take the opportunity of a new challenge and move to America where I am currently playing for Racing Louisville in the NWSL.
What do you enjoy about playing football?
Winning. Also, travelling so much allows you to experience so many different cultures and I have also met some of my closest friends from being team mates.
Who are your role models in football?
I always looked up to Fara Williams and Kelly Smith as female players and I was lucky to play alongside both of them.
The technical quality they possessed along with their mentality and knowledge of the game is one of the best I have seen.
What are your greatest achievements in playing football and why?
I have won everything in England which I am extremely proud of but captaining Liverpool to back-to-back WSL titles has to be one of my best, more so because the squad we had was so underrated and no one expected us to win it.
What are your goals for the future?
To push back on the international stage and be successful in the American League.
Who’s had the biggest influence on you as a footballer and why?
My Mum and Dad.
They have always found a way to allow me every opportunity that came my way, from driving me to London 3 times a week just for training, to always pushing me to be the best I can be and make the most of every opportunity I have whilst also staying humble.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in playing football?
I think changing people’s perception of women’s football.
Most players who are of a similar age to me have grown up with so many different experiences and barriers to overcome.
Whether that be through facilities, medical care, playing & training opportunities etc, for a female player it is usually a fight to gain any level of respect.
But we have the careers we have because of how much we love the game and a determination to prove people wrong.
What advice would you give to young footballers out there who dream of playing professional football like you?
Learn as much as you can through watching, listening and training and never be afraid to make mistakes.
Most of all, enjoy it.