On Tuesday, the Scottish Student Women’s Football squad travels down to Swales to take on the Welsh Universities Squad. We spoke to Florence Haines about the upcoming game.
The squad selection process began earlier in the year with a trial event where students from Scottish colleges and universities attend, from which, a squad between 18 and 20 is picked. Due to issues of injuries and issues over availability, there is room for additions. A friendly against Hamilton Academical and a training session has helped the final selection of the squad to play the Welsh Universities Squad.
This is now the second year in a row that Scotland has selected a squad, something that Haines thought was “terrific” as they look to build momentum going to the 2019 Home Nations. She points that the players are of an age that is “usually between U19 and senior national squads” and felt that it was an important addition to Scotland’s game. Players Kirsty Howard, Demi Falconer and Katy Morris also competed last summer at the World University Games – with Grant Scott as the Assistant Coach.
Haines was clear that Scotland can not underestimate the Welsh squad, despite Scotland’s victory over them at the 2017 Home Nations. This was down to the quality of the Welsh squad, which not only could have FA WSL players but players from the Welsh senior squad that just drew with England.
She reveals that Scottish Students are close to agreeing on a fixture against English Universities, before the end of the 2017-18 academic year. Whilst Haines admits their options of additional games are hampered by the SWPL and international football calendars, there is a desire to cement the status of the Scotland Student Squad playing each year, and more importantly, competiting biannually in the Home Nations.
At the trials, players from six colleges and ten universities took part. Haines explained that these were mainly from the central belt and that they were hoping to expand the programme, believing that will improve the quality of the squad. Any player who studies at any Scottish Higher Education Institution is eligible for the Scottish Student Football National Squad, no matter what their nationality is – with players in the squad being English, American and French.
Haines adds, “In addition to those trialling the coaching staff can invite additional players to join up with the squad as long as they are studying at HND/HNC or undertaking at least 60 credits a year at University.”
As mentioned before, the SWPL calendar has an impact on the number of times that the squad can meet up, but the squad trained yesterday, and will also have a training session on Tuesday. Although they are growing the programme, it is clear that Haines is aware that they don’t want a clash with any other fixtures – after all, that would be damaging. However, she did not feel that this lack of training time would be a negative impact, saying that “many of the players play together at university and Club teams, in addition to being part of the 2017 SSF National Squad.”
There has been a huge amount of success in Scottish University football in recent seasons, with Stirling University and Edinburgh University in particular. When asked about the strength of the Scottish game, Haines replied, “As mentioned we were successful at the Home Nations and further success of Scottish players representing Great Britain at the world university games. A large amount of the GB team was made up of WSL players and to have 3 players involved shows the level of those players combining their study and football in Edinburgh and Stirling. I think in Scotland we have the support and quality in the league to continue to develop high-level players, those of a similar level to Universities and colleges in England. We may not have the depth that England has but options to balance BUCS with Scottish League football has seen a real development of students competing in and for Scotland. We hope this continues to develop and many more clubs, universities and colleges offer support, coaching and playing opportunities to allow athletes to progress both academically and within the game.”
Ciara Bonner (University of Stirling), Nicole Cairney (University of Edinburgh), Rachel Donaldson (University of Stirling), Rebecca Foote (University of Stirling), Natalie Kelley (University of St Andrews), Allison Lightfoot (University of St Andrews), Chloe Logan (University of Stirling), Shaney McCabe (Dundee & Angus College), Beth McKay (University of Stirling), Beth McLeod (University of Edinburgh), Katy Morris (University of Stirling), Carly Noble (Napier University), Sorenza Orezzoli (City of Glasgow College), Megan Robb (Dundee & Angus College), Ellie Simpson (University of Stirling), Eleanor Smith (University of Glasgow), Lucy Stanton (University of Edinburgh)
UPDATE – 6 April
OUT Carly Noble, Nicole Cairney, Sorenza Orrezzoli
In: Tegan Reynolds, Chloe Docherty, Charlotte Parer-Smith
Head Coach – Grant Scott
Assistant Coaches – Nichola Sturrock, Mike Ross and Graeme Hart
Goalkeeper Coach – Edward Gallagher
Physio – Anna Murray
Photographer – Fiona Boslem