GP interview - The GP footballer

London GP Dr Jane Simpson explains her lifelong love of football and her hopes to combine a career in sport with being a GP.

How did you become involved in playing football?

Growing up with a father and two brothers who loved football, I was kicking a ball around from a fairly young age. My dad is a devoted Sheffield United fan and took me to watch games early on.

I grew up in London playing football at my primary school and one year, the Millwall FC community scheme came to coach us.

One of the coaches played for the women's team, Millwall Lionesses, and she invited me to the Millwall girls' training sessions.

From nine years old I was playing for Millwall Lionesses. I worked my way up through the various age groups until I started playing for the first team at 15. Millwall were in the Women's National Premier league when I broke into the first team.

What other football teams have you played for?

I played for Millwall Lionesses until I was 18 and I was also part of the training squad for the England Women under-16s.

I went to Sheffield University to study medicine because this meant I could watch Sheffield United every other Saturday.

Ironically, I ended up playing for Sheffield Wednesday Ladies FC because they were better than the United women's team. Obviously, this didn't go down too well with my family of United fans!

I played for Wednesday for the five years I was at university and my last game was the county cup final against Doncaster Belles (who were one of the best teams in the country at the time).

We were the underdogs but managed to pull off a great performance and won 1-0. I scored the winning goal and I think that was my favourite footballing moment so far.

I stopped playing regularly when I qualified as a doctor because I was working one or two weekends a month. However, now I have qualified as a GP, I have my weekends back, so I am currently in pre-season training with my new team, London Corinthians.

Tell us about your role as a qualified FA coach

Every Saturday, a group of boys had football coaching at my local park.

I knew the coach and asked if I could try coaching to earn a bit of money. I was about 14 when I started coaching the under-eight boys' team. I really loved it.

Then opportunities to coach came up at Millwall and it organised for me to do my FA coaching badges. This involved a one-week theory and practical course, followed by gaining coaching experience, completing a logbook of sessions and a final assessment.

Once I had my coaching badges, I coached regularly for the Millwall community scheme between studying for my A-levels. I also coached at the Millwall girls' centre of excellence and Sheffield United girls' centre of excellence. I was offered a job as a scout for Sheffield United men's football team while I was at university.

I don't coach right now and the next badge would be a big commitment. I would like to get back into it once I have stopped playing.

You were recently awarded an Arthritis Research UK training bursary. What do you plan to do with this?

I qualified as a GP 12 months ago and after a spell travelling, I began work as a locum in south-east London. I have also developed an interest in musculoskeletal medicine.

In September, I start a full-time sports and exercise medicine master's degree at Queen Mary University, London, and I am very grateful for the bursary from Arthritis Research UK (see box).

It has always been my plan to mix my love of sports with my medical career, so this is the perfect opportunity. Ultimately, I would like to work in elite sports, perhaps combining this with part-time work as a GP.

One of the modules of this course is 'football medicine', which is based at Chelsea FC training ground and taught by the doctors there. I am really looking forward to that and if Jose Mourinho wants to offer me a bit of advice on coaching, he is more than welcome.

Another option will be to use the knowledge I gain on this course to become a GPSI.

Part of the reason I was attracted to being a GP is that it allows you to have specialist interests. I like the continuity of care with patients and you see a variety of conditions, so it keeps you on your toes.

It is a hard job, though - I find it mentally exhausting and could never do it full-time, hence the need for something different as well.

Do you have any other footballing achievements?

I have been in a few TV adverts - for Sky's football coverage, the men's UEFA champions league on ITV and the female FIFA world cup.

My record number of keep-ups (that I have counted) is 2,542.

Arthritis Research UK training bursaries

  • Arthritis Research UK's GP training bursaries are offered to qualified GPs who wish to develop their interest in musculoskeletal medicine or surgery.
  • The charity also awards GP trainee prizes, which are available to specialty trainees on a UK training scheme or foundation year trainees whose placements are based in general practice.

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