Secondary school students in north-west London were treated to a footballing masterclass by England legend Jill Scott.

The former Lioness took to the pitch at Harris Lowe Academy in Willesden, where she took part in a special training session to launch the FA’s The Greater Game initiative.

The project aims to improve young people’s health by focusing on exercise, mental health, eating, and sleeping and has created a new football-themed game called ‘DROPS’ as part of its emphasis on moving more.

Scott, who earned 161 caps for England, took part in the game as well as giving a few pieces of valuable advice to the students involved who have already seen first-hand the impact of the scheme.

“For the past couple of months, we have been doing this for the Greater Game,” explained Lois, aged 12.

“It has been really fun to have a different role and how different my life is. I used to do other things that were not as healthy but now I have realised and switched things up a bit.

“I don’t go on my phone half an hour before bedtime and that’s really helped my sleep a lot. Now I get much better sleep and I am more rested in the morning when I have to get up early for school.

“I do a lot more activities than I used to do. I did football and cricket but that was pretty much it, so I expanded my activity quite a bit. Now I do trampolining, more running and with school, I do a little bit of cheerleading.

“It was really cool to meet Jill. I have not met many footballers and it was really cool to see her experience and she was really nice.”

The scheme focuses on getting children more active and eating healthier as well as making other positive switches, such as reducing screen time on phones and tablets.

Scott revealed she spent most of her time growing up outside but admitted it can be more difficult for today’s teenagers and hailed the new initiative as imperative to helping more children stay active.

“Exercise was massive, I was out from day to night when I didn’t have school,” she said. 

“There are different safety elements now that means children probably can’t do that, which is why it’s even more important that we are trying to get screen time down as that is affecting kids’ mental health because they’re not outside playing.

“The FA did some research and a third of children don’t really feel that it’s necessary to exercise and that’s worrying. By showing the ways that you can move, even if it’s just going for a walk, it will make a difference. 

“It’s all about inspiring healthier lifestyles through a focus on four pillars; think, move, eat and sleep. It’s just about making little changes to your lifestyle, especially for children, to make sure they can be healthier in the mind and the body.”

Scott retired in 2022 following a stellar career for both club and country that ended in fairytale fashion as England won Euro 2022 at Wembley in her final professional game.

But the 37-year-old admitted it has been difficult to make sure she gets the right amount of exercise in retirement and has learned plenty from The Greater Game project that she can take into her own life.

“I was very naive to it, I used to think why didn’t people eat well but it is hard,” she added. “You will finish work late, the last thing you want to do is get out for a run. 

“For me if I’m travelling and i’m at two venues that are walking distance apart, instead of jumping in the car I will walk. There is always something you can do, exercise doesn’t mean you have to be flat out on the floor being sick.”

The Football Association rolls out ‘the Greater Game’ nationwide as nearly a third of young people do not feel the need to exercise regularly @EnglandFootball #TheGreaterGame