A group of primary school girls was surprised by a Scotland international yesterday, as goalkeeper Lee Alexander joined pupils from Mount Florida Primary for a lunchtime football session.
Girls in primaries one to three were given the chance to practice their passing and dribbling skills, before putting Alexander on the spot by putting their questions to the Glasgow City shot-stopper.
The bespoke girls-only session had been arranged following feedback from parents, in which they reported their daughters feeling daunted by the prospect of mixed sessions.
In response, the school stepped in to deliver four girls-only taster events in conjunction with Active Schools, designed to foster the enthusiasm of the next generation of SWNT players and supporters.
That enthusiasm was on full display during Alexander’s visit, with the 13-times capped goalkeeper admitting that the visit brought back memories from her own footballing journey.
“Playing at primary school was how it all started for me, way back when!” she said.
“I was there with my ball before school every morning – we played seven-a-side, or however many players we had. It’s a bit like going back to the start for me.
“It’s great to come back to primary schools and be taken back to that age. To see that there’s more scope for girls to get into football - and sport in general - at such a young age is fantastic.”
Active Schools co-ordinator Alan Donaldson highlighted the importance of early engagement, as well as the role that is being played by the SWNT ahead of a momentous year for women’s football in Scotland.
“Sessions like this are so important in schools,” he said.
“There is a real growth in women’s football right now, so it’s about putting the infrastructure in place to work alongside that growth.
“Young kids are looking for role models, so for someone like Lee to come down and show that clear pathway – both as a possible career for them and just as something to enjoy – is massive for them.”
For Alexander, the status of role model is one that she is more than happy to embrace.
“It puts such a smile on your face to see the girls running about like this. You don’t need to be the best – you can just turn up and get active in sessions like this, there are no barriers.
“Getting them active at an early age is the main thing, alongside making sure that they get a real sense of enjoyment out of it.
“We’re happy to be held up as role models – some of the girls here might get more involved and take it up at a club, or they might stay involved. It’s all about building those grassroots links and potentially helping the future stars of our game.”