Schools score forwomen's football

10th May 1996 at 01:00
Sheila Begbie, Team Sport co-ordinator for the Scottish Women's Football Association, attended an introductory SFA coaching course alongside the likes of Stuart McCall and Ian Ferguson of Rangers and Motherwell's Chris McCart last Sunday.

The women's game is changing its focus and is set to concentrate resources into the youth game after disappointing results for Scotland's senior team in the current European championships.

"The proposal is to leave the senior team on a care and maintenance basis and concentrate on our under-13, under-16 and under-20 squads," Begbie says. "We currently have development squads in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen but the proposal is to increase the number of areas in which squads will be established."

Ayr, Perth and Inverness are the likely sites.

Begbie says: "We are also looking at the possibility of basing our national squads at Kilgraston School in Perthshire. If players are travelling from Aberdeen, it can be difficult for them to get to Edinburgh by 10am on a Saturday. Kilgraston is more accessible for a greater number of people and has tremendous facilities."

At under-13 level, the proposal is to establish a series of one and two-day camps with the main emphasis on small-sided coaching games and Soccer Sevens during inter-regional games.

Women's football is enjoying a boom in Scotland since Team Sport started in 1991. In 1991, there were 27 teams, 400 registered players and 23 coaches. This year, there are 230 teams, 2,705 players and 2,074 women coaches.

"The numbers have been quite staggering. I must admit even I have been taken aback by them," Begbie says. "There are 115 schools now affiliated to the association and there are around 1,200 schoolgirls playing.

"That is the official numbers we have, but we believe there are even more playing the game. Those figures are from virtually nothing in 1991."

It is clear that the improvement in numbers is largely down to the game in the schools. "When we had our recent schools festivals, 82 schools applied to take part. We had schools from all over Scotland, from Stornoway to the Borders, " Begbie says.

"But we still suffer from girls giving up the game once they are 16 and take up other sports or other interests. It is something we are looking at closely. "

The future of the women's game worldwide looks bright and it is forecast that by the first decade of the next century there will be as many women playing the game as men.

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