Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) are celebrating International Women’s Day with the news that a record 175 teams have entered the 2018 Youth Scottish Cup. Across the three age groups, U-13, U-15, and U-17, these teams will battle it out for the top accolade in girls’ football.
Fiona McIntyre, Executive Officer for SWF, said, “It’s fantastic to see so many teams and, ultimately, girls participating in the competition from across the whole country. This highlights the continued growth of the game and it’s great to celebrate that on International Women’s Day.”
Fiona also highlighted that SWF has worked hard to make the game more accessible in 2018. “For this season, we’ve reduced our club affiliation fees with significant reductions at youth level where fees have been reduced by as much as 50% for our U-13 teams and a total investment of £12,000 made in this area”, she said. “We certainly think this has helped to increase the number of teams participating. We never want price to be the reason a team or a player doesn’t play football, so this is us taking an active step to try and ensure that never happens.”
Alongside the record number of teams in the Youth Cup, this will also be the first weekend of the new National Performance Leagues (last weekend was postponed due to adverse weather). The two leagues, at Under 15 and Under 19 level, have been created to provide a performance pathway for elite, youth players at club level.
Robert Watson, Assistant Manager of Hamilton Academical Ladies FC, said, “Hamilton Academical WFC are delighted with the new Performance pathways within SWF and are excited to be a part of it.*
“The creation of this League allows young players to start their journey as elite athletes in a professional atmosphere not only within their club but within a professional playing platform that can allow them to grow, learn and succeed as footballers and as people. This can only benefit SWF in future by giving our best youth players the playing and training environment they deserve.”
Ian Dibdin, Head of Central Girls Football Academy, said, “We fully embrace the introduction of the National Performance League and believe it gives the elite players, of all clubs, the chance to challenge themselves against teams of similar ability, in meaningful games.**
“It is imperative that the youth leagues have an elite pathway, to support player development in reaching their full potential at national and international level. The National Performance League concept is a major step in the right direction, in our opinion and we wish all the organisers, teams and players the very best working towards the success of the project.”
Fiona added, “We recognise that this is a significant change away from the current regional model in youth football. However, we feel that it’s a great step forward for the benefit of the whole game. Our elite players will play in a performance environment every week whilst our newly established and developing teams can continue to enjoy the benefits of regional football against a similar level of opposition.
“We have been delighted by the reaction of clubs who have been very positive in supporting the creation of these new competition and we have engaged with them every step of the way to shape the competitions in a way that the clubs are comfortable with without compromising the main ethos of the leagues. We’re now looking forward to working with them over the course of the season to continually review and adapt the leagues to ensure they make the optimum impact on the development journey of the young players participating within these new and exciting competitions.”
*Hamilton Academical have entered the Under 19 league.
**Central Girls Football Academy have entered the Under 15 league.