At the end of last year, the Scottish FA convened a working group of key stakeholders with the purpose of creating a compelling, unifying vision for women’s football in this country.
The success of the Women’s National Team, led by Shelley Kerr, in qualifying for their first- ever FIFA Women’s World Cup, allied to the sustained involvement of clubs in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, has generated an unprecedented interest in women’s football at all levels – a momentum the constituent parts of the women’s game are determined to cultivate for future generations of fans and players.
Women’s football has enjoyed meteoric growth across participation, attendances, and broadcasting and commercial income in recent years: an exciting journey Scottish football is keen to be at the vanguard of.
It is also acknowledged that the girls and women’s game in Scotland is at a critical juncture: while undoubted progress has been made domestically and on the international arena, there is also a clear opportunity to review and harmonise the various plans in place to ensure a more strategic and commercially vibrant domestic women’s game.
That shared objective has been helped greatly by support from UEFA to develop a dedicated football strategy for women’s football: with the Scottish FA one of five national associations throughout Europe’s 55 NAs to receive bespoke assistance.
The working group, which comprises of representatives from the Scottish FA, Scottish Women’s Football and the Scottish Professional Football League, now also includes representation from European football’s governing body, UEFA, as well as expert guidance from The English FA.
Fiona McIntyre has been appointed on a short term secondment from Scottish Women’s Football as the Scottish FA’s Girls and Women’s Strategic Project Lead to co-ordinate the discussions and liaise with UEFA on the progress of the strategy.
Fiona joins from Scottish Women’s Football as Executive Officer, being in the position since 2017 and is a current member of the Scottish FA Non-Professional Game Board.
Fiona is vastly experienced in the girls’ and women’s game having been on the board at Scottish Women’s Football and working in events management and sports development.
The strategic framework is founded on six strategic pillars:
- National Teams
- Elite competitions and clubs
- Leadership and workforce
A series of workstreams for each have been created, which will culminate in the creation and publication of a compelling strategic vision for girls’ and women’s football at all levels in Scotland.
It is estimated the process will take six months from beginning to end. The working group is keen to be proactive in its communications to the wider girls and women’s football community and will update at relevant stages of the strategy’s development.
Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive and chair of the women’s football strategy working group: “Firstly, this is a hugely exciting development for girls’ and women’s football in Scotland and the process will be helped greatly by the assistance offered to us by UEFA Women’s Football.
“The working group has met on two occasions already in broad agreement that we need to create a single strategy for the game supported by all key stakeholders. To do that, we need to simplify the governance model across all domestic and international activity, recognise and support the volunteer network on whom the women’s game has arguably been over-reliant, to increase the standards and criteria for a thriving domestic competition, and to harness a pathway from grassroots to elite.
“These are considerable undertakings but we are buoyed by the fact we have enjoyed record attendances for our women’s national teams, including 18,555 watching at Hampden, we have enjoyed record attendances for domestic cup finals and have watched the number of registered players grow by one-third since 2016 – including the biggest single-year growth recorded last year.
“Together, the working group is committed to producing a compelling vision for women’s football.”
UEFA’s National Associations Business Development Specialist, Polly Bancroft said: “We were really impressed by the motivation shown by the Scottish FA for this project.
“They were one of five National Associations who were selected for bespoke support in developing a strategy for women’s and girls’ football, from twenty who applied.
“We’re looking forward to co-operating with the working group at the Scottish FA to agree an exciting plan for the female game, taking the sport to the next level.”