Gemma Lawley: We are starting to build

We know we can push each other to become better and set the standards high.

Gemma Lawley

Blues Women’s Gemma Lawley is savouring the opportunity of first team football and is striving to push her development even further this season.

The 19-year-old has started six of the first seven Blues games this season, having made her debut for the side in last season’s FA Cup semi-final against Everton.

Following appearances in each competition last season, Lawley was rewarded with her first professional contract in July, signing a two-year deal.

Speaking on her reasons behind deciding to commit her immediate future to the Club, Lawley said: “To play for Birmingham, I always knew this was what I wanted all the way through from Under-16s.

“We will be the underdogs going into most games, but we want to prove that we are good enough to be in the Women’s Super League. It’s about turning people’s heads and making them look at us as a good team.”

The squad was revamped over the summer with 13 new arrivals, as well as a new Head Coach in Scott Booth, and the side were still learning about each other as the BFAWSL season kicked off.

Defeats in their first four league games left Blues near the bottom of the table, but each game came with its improvements. In the team’s last league game before the international break, they secured a battling point away to an in-form West Ham.

Now, Lawley is aiming to continue her strong start to the season as Blues look to build on the momentum they gained before the international break.

She said: “We want to pick up as many points as we can, showing our quality on and off the pitch. If we don’t get the result we want, we still want to put in good performances each week. We know we can push each other to become better and set the standards high.

“Birmingham is a team that has full determination, and the togetherness is what helps us. The international break came at a bad time for us because we had just started to gain momentum with our point at West Ham.

“We are starting to build together as a team and show our qualities, we’ve got more work to do but we are a team that have only just come together.”

The 19-year-old has been joined at the heart of the defence by the experienced Louise Quinn, who was named Club captain at the start of the season, and the youngster has enjoyed learning from the former BFAWSL winner.

“I feel like a sponge whenever Louise [Quinn] speaks because I just absorb everything she says. She is so experienced and the level that she plays, she is a quality player.

“To play alongside her week-in, week-out is only going to help me. Playing alongside someone so experienced, it doesn’t get much better for a young player like me that hasn’t had too much experience in the WSL,”

On the other mainstays of the back four, Lawley added: “To be playing alongside all of the back four, Lou, Becks [Holloway], Harriet [Scott], I feel like I’m learning every day in training and in matches.”

Despite her impressive start to the season, the defender wants to remain level-headed and focus on taking each opportunity that she is given to continue her development.  

She said: “I don’t want to lose sight of how I’ve started the season. I want to keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t want my confidence to get affected. I will keep working hard in training and keep learning.

“You have to keep working hard to get the opportunities, and when you get the opportunity, grab it with both hands.

“I want to focus on me and my game, but there is also more that I want to add to the team.”

Lawley is one of several players that have progressed through the Academy system at Blues and made their debuts for the first team.

This season, seven Academy players have been given shirt numbers; Abi Cowie, Abbi Jenner, Lucy Jones, Lucy Hepburn, Angelina Nixon, Sophie Phillips, and Freya Clark. As well as two Academy graduates in Lawley and Lily Simkin.

The defender praised the pathway at the Club as a key reason behind her development, having moved up to the first team last season.

“It shows to people that Birmingham has a pathway to the first team. That’s what is so good about Birmingham, the young players can get experience and it can motivate you to work harder because you realise that it is what you want,” she said.

“The togetherness Birmingham show as team, the playing staff and the coaches, it’s something that you want to be a part of.”