Scotland’s national team is riding high after recently qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the first time. Led by Shelley Kerr, the national side is inspiring the nation and capturing hearts and minds across the country. While at club level Glasgow City have also been doing their bit by progressing to the last sixteen of the Women’s Champions League, where they have been handed a glamorous tie against Barcelona Femenì.
This has understandably led to enquiries from companies keen to get involved in the women’s game. In a really refreshing move Scottish Women’s Football has vowed to snub money from firms associated with alcohol or gambling and only to associate with “positive” brands. This is a bold and honourable move and one that reaffirms the integrity of the Women’s game.
This is in contrast to the three main domestic competitions in the senior men’s game in Scotland being sponsored by betting companies. The organisation’s chair, Vivienne MacLaren told BBC Scotland that “Over 80% of our members who play football are in youth teams and are under 18. I understand why, in the men’s game and other sports, it fits very well with what they are trying to do. For us, it is very much family-orientated. We want wee girls playing football to have positive role models and a bit of a cleaner view of life.”
“It has been a very hard line from us and, yes, we might be missing out on money from these areas, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable because our approach is very much about well-being and mental health. I think we can get income from other brands. We are looking at it from a lifestyle perspective. What is that combines to give girls a good start and a stable life? It is about diet, about mental health and about sport and exercise. We are looking for positive lifestyle choices.”
The growth of the grassroots game in Scotland shows no signs of stopping, with the ongoing success of the women’s Highlands and Islands tournament paving the way for an exciting new development. A proposal to create a women’s Highlands and Islands League for 2019 has just been ratified by SWF.
Jo Murphy, Scottish FA Girls and Women’s Club Development Officer for the North region says, “It will allow women to compete in a local league for the first time, and also hopefully inspire young girls to get involved in a local team. It gives women something to aim for – at the moment, a lot of these teams are just training, not knowing when their next game may be. Due to their location, teams may only rarely have home fixtures. We are hoping that by showcasing this level of football at the heart of these communities, the game will become increasingly more popular in these areas.”
The future’s bright, but it’s not orange, it’s tartan!