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the leeds 2023 conversation – emma bentley, leeds ladies fc

the leeds 2023 conversation – emma bentley, leeds ladies fc


Emma Bentley started playing football for Leeds when she was seven years old, and this year was made captain of the reborn Leeds Ladies FC.

When not leading the phoenix club back to the top of the women’s game, Emma is a PE teacher at Corpus Christi and their associated primary schools, and she says that our city’s rich sporting culture should be an integral part of a Leeds bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

“Culture means different things to different people,” says Emma. “Your culture is your way of life.”

As well as being a great city for art, successful sportspeople and teams have often been a source of pride for the city. As sport has helped define what Leeds is about to a lot of its people, it should help define a Capital of Culture bid, too.

“We’ve got lots of big name sports people that are coming out of the city and doing well,” says Emma. “Our culture is sport, as well as music, as well as art, as well as everything else. It’s very important to us, and I think we should stay true to ourself and include that within the bid.

“Taking part in sport from an early age has helped to shape me as the person that I am now, and I think the role that children can play in a bid is vital. In the next few years when the bid is put together, and certainly during 2023, the children we have now will have hopefully developed into mature young citizens who will be making our city proud.

“In my day to day teaching work at Corpus Christi and its cluster of primary schools, I see how sport can positively influence a child’s life, how children who may not be the best writer or the best mathematician can access sport at a basic level and succeed and achieve – and that makes them feel proud. Why shouldn’t we use 2023 to raise a generation of young people who can feel proud of themselves? Give them that goal, give them the tools to achieve it and let them believe that the boundaries are endless.”

You can hear what Emma thinks in the video below – and watch the cracking penalty she scored in Leeds Ladies’ opening day win this season.

Then let us know what you think in the comments – should Leeds include sport in a bid to become European Capital of Culture? What does culture mean to you – is it art, sport, or something else entirely? Is it important for Leeds, as Emma says, to stay true to ourself?