A Nottinghamshire police officer is set to mix her passions for policing and women’s football by leading the force’s best players on the international stage.
Sergeant Jemma Connor-Iommi has taken over as manager of Great Britain Police’s women’s side – following a football career that saw her represent the Republic of Ireland.
A former Nottingham Forest captain, the defender also played for the likes of Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion in the Women’s Super League before joining Nottinghamshire Police four years ago.
Far from hanging up her boots, Sgt Connor-Iommi then started playing for Great Britain Police but has now been promoted to the top job and will now be tasked with picking players to follow in her footsteps.
“I feel like I still have a lot more to give to football, so thought what better way than to combine my love for the police with my previous life in football? It was a no brainer!”, she said.
“Being a manager will certainly be a different challenge, but it will still be the same buzz in the sense of it being exciting to be competing against the best the police service has internationally.
“Coming off the back of what the Lionesses did in the summer, this is such an exciting time for women’s football, and we have such a good opportunity to really roll with the momentum those women have created.
“I’ve been on the same journey those girls are on in terms of trying to transform the sport for the better, and I want to transform what we do in the GB police team to mirror that and get us the success we are capable of getting as well.”
Having travelled to Norway for Great Britain’s European Police Championships campaign back in June, Sgt Connor-Iommi will now be tasked with taking the side on towards the next Euros in 2025.
And after being impressed with what she saw while out on the continent, she admitted she may have made the move to policing sooner had she known the career opportunities in sport that were on offer.
She said: “I’ll be honest, when I joined the police I had no idea this team even existed and that you could play at such a high standard while still being a police officer.
“Had I known that towards the latter stages of my career, I would’ve potentially looked at coming into the police force a little bit sooner for sure.
“There are a lot of talented players playing international football in this country, and I doubt many of them know they could transfer their skills into the police force when they finish and continue playing at a high level.
“I want to increase the participation of women within the police force and those participating in football and other sports too.
“Part of what excites me is when I’m out doing what I do in the community, I can educate talented females that they can still play a really high level of sport while having a career in the police force.
“I want to bring everything together and connect all the dots – so that’s bringing more women into policing, as well as more players into our team to help us win the next European championships.”
In her role as a police officer at Nottinghamshire Police, Sgt Connor-Iommi has also harnessed the power of sport by leading separate football and basketball initiatives to engage with young people in the community.
Both this year’s KickOff@3 and TipOff@3 projects have been a major success and have allowed the force to build positive relationships with youngsters who might not typically interact with the police normally.
Chief Constable Craig Guildford, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Jemma has led on a number of projects that have used the power of sport to help Nottinghamshire Police engage with youngsters across our communities.
“This work has allowed us to break down barriers and build positive relationships with young people who perhaps might not have been as comfortable doing this outside of a sporting environment.
“I’d like to commend Jemma for her ongoing commitment to making a difference in this way and also congratulate her on her appointment as GB Police Women’s football manager.
“I trust that she will continue to represent Nottinghamshire Police in a positive fashion.”
Chief Officer Lead for GB Women’s Football, Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine, of West Midlands Police, added: “I am delighted that Jemma will be the new manager for the GB Women’s football team.
“Jemma is an exceptional leader with a huge wealth of experience in the women’s game.
“I am confident that under her leadership the team will go from strength to strength and I look forward to watching the team develop and grow.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing manager Michelle Gregory. Michelle has done an outstanding job.
“The team quite simply would be nowhere near it is today without her tireless work and passion.”