1. Why do you think it is, that despite the men’s team failing to qualify for a major tournament since 1998, Women’s Football is still rarely spoken about in the media? An example of this is that despite Kim Little being arguably the best player in the world, she is not a household name.
The success of the national women’s team is key to changing this. The national team’s historic qualification for the European Championships later this year is a remarkable achievement. In my role as patron I’ve got to know Anna so I was delighted for her and all the players when the team qualified – now we all want to give Anna the best send-off possible.
The relaunched SWPL has also been successful, with a higher profile helped by the sponsorship from SSE. Just as importantly, we’re also seeing success at other age groups, with increasing numbers of women and girls playing the game. That’s great for the future, and hopefully, we’ve got some future Kim Littles coming through. So women’s football is going from strength to strength in Scotland and there’s a lot for us to be proud of.
That said, I’d always like to see more media coverage of women’s’ football, and women’s sport more generally.
I know the Scottish FA and SWF are working hard to raise the profile and with the European Championships set to be broadcast live on terrestrial television, I’m hopeful we’ll see more support, more coverage and more interest in the game. I’ll always do what I can to help promote the sport and magazines like Tartan Kicks, devoted to women’s football, can only help spread the message.
2. How do you think your role as Patron of the national women’s team can improve the participation in Women’s Football?
Anything I can do to raise the profile of the game is welcome – however, I want my role as patron of the women’s national team to be more than symbolic. I want to see more women and girls playing the game, and more people attending women’s football. I also want to see more diversity in the men’s game, as I think that will help the women’s game flourish. We have been working closely with the Scottish FA and SWF on these issues and I am confident we will make progress.
3. How does Scotland take advantage of Scotland’s participation in the Euros in improving the interest in the sport over the next decade?
I want the team playing in the European Championships to be an inspiration to all, particularly young girls, to kick a ball or take up sport. As the first major tournament Scotland has qualified for since 1998, we have a unique opportunity to use that success as a springboard. I want to see increased participation in and attendance at games and we are working with the Scottish FA and SWF to achieve that.
And it won’t stop this summer – we have the chance to build on this, with the women’s under-19 European Championships coming to Scotland in 2019, the Euro 2020 games taking place in Glasgow the following year and, hopefully, seeing more Scottish teams qualifying for major tournaments.
Thank you to the First Minister for taking the time to answer these questions.
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