The SWF has announced that a historic funding deal that will help the Scottish players train full time ahead of the European Championships. Funding from the Scottish Government, sportscotland, through its National Lottery stream, the sponsors of the Scottish Women’s Cup, SSE, and the Scottish Football Partnership will enable their domestic-based international players currently in full-time employment or education to be solely focused upon the Euros.
The deal was announced at Hampden Park with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP – who is the Patron of SWF – Sports Minister Aileen Campbell MSP, the Scotland Head Coach Anna Signeul, Hibernian’s captain Joelle Murray and Glasgow City’s captain Leanne Ross in attendance – alongside representatives from the three major sponsors Colin Banks (Head of SSE Sponsorship), Stuart McCafferty (CEO of Scottish Football Partnership) and Mel Young (Chair of sportscotland).
Nicola Sturgeon, who has spoken before passionately about her desire to grown the women’s game, was delighted to announce the deal. She praised the squad for their historic qualification, and said that the funding will “help the squad to arrive in the Netherlands in the best possible shape.”
She added that she hoped that Scotland’s international success would “inspire many more women and girls to take up the sport and attend games.”
Anna Signeul also reacted to the deal, saying, “It’s fantastic. It’s really admirable that the government, sportscotland and of course SSE being the big sponsor in women’s football, it’s really fantastic. They really really put themselves forward as a company to say ‘we are investing’. I think its fantastic that a company comes out and says that this is something worth investing in.”
“Major Impact On Training And Games”
It is expected that around half the squad will benefit from the deal. There are six players in employment who are covered: Captain Gemma Fay (sportscotland), Celtic’s Megan Cunningham (Scottish Hockey), Glasgow City’s Nicola Docherty (Lifecare Edinburgh), Glasgow City’s Jo Love (Glasgow City Council), Joelle Murray (Royal London) and Leanne Ross (Clackmannanshire Council). The deal will also extend to students like Kirsty Smith, Rachel McLauchlan and Lizzie Arnot. Whilst primarily covering Scottish-based players, it will also provide funding to Bristol City’s Frankie Brown.
Leanne Ross spoke to Tartan Kicks and declared that the deal was “fantastic news for me personally and the rest of the girls who are going to benefit from the funding.”
When asked about the impact the deal would have on her training, she said not having to work would allow her to make sure she was eating the “right things at the right times” and being able to do extra things such as flexibility and yoga which she stated “can have a major impact on training and games.”
The Glasgow City captain spoke about players having to move jobs due to not going to be able to get time off work, but she stated that this was understandable from an employer’s perspective who have to be able to make sure that their business functions properly. However, she praised her own employer Clackmannanshire Council, stating they had “been fantastic for me.”
“Exactly The Sort Of Thing We Should Be Doing”
Mel Young told Tartan Kicks that he was delighted that sportscotland was helping the Scotland team, saying, “This is exactly the sort of thing we should be doing” and declaring that the deal was “great for Scotland”. The approach that this funding deal was one that was used for Scottish hockey for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Young expanded upon the details.
“The deal is £80,000, and what it does is it allows six players who are currently working to take time off work, so the companies are compensated for the players to take time off work”
“We try and help to make a difference if we can”
This is the second important deal that SWF have struck in the past five months, having announced that SSE would sponsor the Scottish Cup back in September 2016. Colin Banks told Tartan Kicks that the company had been approached through that deal. He also confirmed that this deal is on top of the funding that the SSE agreed last year. He said that the company felt that this “was a unique opportunity to put that little bit extra funding in to support a one-off sort of initiative.”
Banks spoke not only about his delight that the deal exists, but one that numerous parties had got involved in. Looking ahead to the future, Banks said, “You would like to think that with the success they have had, who knows, maybe some additional funding might come into the game, maybe some of the players will be full-time and we may not need to do these initiatives going forward. But we’re always open to talking to the SFA and Scottish Women’s Football, about how we can support and help as a sponsor – we don’t just put our name on things, we try and help to make a difference if we can.”
The SWF are currently trying to improve the coverage of Scottish Women’s Football, and recently the Daily Record announced that there would be a weekly column covering the game. This has been sponsored by SSE and Banks felt that more and more outlets were starting to realise that the interest in the game was growing. “From an SSE’s point of view, again we were willing to help with any media partners, to be honest. The Daily Record approached us they were looking to give women’s football more coverage, we managed to help out a little bit with some support for that. Working with Susie and the team at the SWF to do that, and it kicks off this weekend which is great in terms of a whole season of coverage in terms of one of our national media titles is brilliant.”