Dear friends and football fans,
By now I am sure you will be aware that history has been made by our Women’s National Team in qualifying for their first every major finals tournament, the UEFA Women’s European Championships in Netherlands in 2017.
This achievement is the culmination of years of hard work by a group of players who deserve immense credit and recognition for helping to put a smile on the face of Scottish football. Reaching the Euro finals is, of course, a landmark for women’s football but its significance in the wider context of our national sport should not be underestimated, either.
I owe a debt of gratitude to every player who has sacrificed her time to come through our academy set-up; or who has balanced the demands of an increasingly professional sport with the demands of working life, of further education and of family commitments to help achieve our common objective.
Players who now travel across Europe and, for that matter, across continents to help ensure Scottish football – and not just women’s football - is represented at the highest level of international competition.
We have one of the world’s leading players in Kim Little and a squad that deserved to qualify automatically for Scotland’s first major tournament in almost 20 years. These are achievements worth celebrating.
On behalf of my players and my staff I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and congratulations since qualification was confirmed, before our impressive victory against Iceland in our final match last week.
Qualification has been a decade in the making. I have been proud to have spent the last 10 years working with my colleagues at the Scottish FA, Scottish Women’s Football and our regional and national networks to provide girls and women in Scotland with the inspiration, incentive and, above all, opportunity to realise their ambitions.
I would like to thank every supporter who came to our matches, both home and away, and look forward to your ongoing support. It is really heartening to see so many young boys and girls attend our matches and the players always take time to ensure they go home with photos, selfies and autographs after the game, win, lose or draw.
It is my wish that in helping to take Scotland to a major finals, we can capture the imagination of even more fans – to continue to grow the interest in women’s football but also to inspire our future generation of players.
I am grateful for the help we have received so far but believe we can use the finals as a real catalyst to raise standards, support and awareness of our successes even more.
I am especially thankful to Stewart Regan, our Chief Executive, for his unstinting support for the women’s game since his arrival, as well as our President, Alan McRae.
From the First Minster’s support as Patron of the women’s national team, to the commitment from the Scottish Government, sportscotland and the Institute of Sport, the success would not have been possible without their involvement. Likewise the assistance provided by our sponsors and partners at adidas and Vauxhall.
The contribution of former players and colleagues cannot pass without mention, either, in particular Julie Fleeting, Pauline Hamill, Sheila Begbie and Maureen McGonigle.
BBC Alba have given women’s football in this country a real platform and I am grateful to Margot McCuaig and all at Purple TV for helping us reach a new audience, along with those colleagues in the media who have been key in amplifying our successes.
The work starts now in preparing our squad for the finals next year and we will rely on your support like never before. If you haven’t experienced women’s football, then give it a try: the Scotland supporters are renowned the world over and we want you to be part of something special, something new and something fun.
We look forward to seeing you during our preparations for next year. Thank you for helping to make a difference and thank you for playing your part in creating history for the national game and for women’s football in this country.
Anna Signeul, Girls & Women's National Coach