The 2019 Scottish women’s World Cup side provided the nation with moments of sheer joy. From the successful qualification to almost 20,000 packing out Hampden for the friendly against Jamaica as well as the games at the World Cup themselves – they did our nation very proud.
Let me be honest and open. The game against Jamaica was the first woman’s football match I had attended. I won’t lie going through high school there was a toxic atmosphere towards the woman’s game and I was guilty of writing it off without even watching a game out of nothing but ignorance and unwillingness not to follow the crowd. I am ashamed of that in hindsight but it was the attitude I held at that time and I want to be open about that and admit that I’m ashamed of it in retrospect.
However, I have to say since attending the game at Hampden last year as part of my role in education I was mesmerised by the positive ball playing style of our national team and the skill and class of Erin Cuthbert and the rest of the team. I have since followed woman’s football with a keen interest and having spoken to Laura Montgomery at Glasgow City, it’s clear that there are great minds behind the clubs in the game.
However, it frustrates me that some clubs who have woman’s teams don’t fully integrate them into their structure and ensure that every side has full access to the clubs facilities – most notably the training ground. I’ve spoken to a range of people within the game across the U.K. and many express dismay at the lack of integration especially when it comes to the use of facilities.
It is 2020 and the lack of integration is unacceptable to me. Therefore, my proposal is very simple. I would call on the FA and the SFA to impose the following rule: for senior clubs to have a recognised woman’s team that can enter the top competitions in their respective countries then they must have fully integrated access into the facilities that the club has and be fully supported by the club financially and in terms of equal access.
As for me you can’t have a woman’s team in name alone. That simply isn’t good enough and isn’t progressive enough for the millions of woman and young girls out there who love the game and see football as a realistic career path.
Cynics will argue that the viewing figures and the interest isn’t there but in my view that’s due to a lack of coverage and the respect the game gets from certain elements of the media and from certain clubs hosting sides in name only.
This has to change and it has to change NOW. For the good of the game as a whole and crucially for the young girls who aspire to be the next Erin Cuthbert. Anything less is doing them and our nation a great disservice.