SWF: Shetland facilities must match ambition in women’s football

Scottish Women's Football to support Shetland

Scottish Women’s Football has offered support to calls for upgraded facilities in Shetland to support the growing women’s game on the islands.

SWF CEO Aileen Campbell has written to Shetland Island Council after visiting the islands as part of a programme of engagement with clubs across the country.

Aileen Campbell met with coaches from Shetland Girls Football Club to hear about plans for the future and ways to help support the continued growth of the women’s and girls’ game in Shetland.

This included exciting new plans to develop and enhance the pitches by the Clickimin centre to enable all-year round playing opportunities for football and rugby clubs on the island.

Commenting, Aileen Campbell said: “I was really impressed to hear about the significant growth of the women’s game in Shetland, driven by a team of dedicated and committed volunteers. It is crucial that SWF does what it can to help support opportunities for girls and women to play and remove barriers where we can, and those barriers are mostly keenly felt by our island communities.

“That’s why it’s vital that the facilities across Scotland’s local authorities match the ambition shown to grow the game.  We recognise the challenges of facilitating structured and competitive football for girls in the islands, so it was good to be able to discuss what more we can all do and to lend support to exciting new plans to develop all-weather facilities to enable more games and enhanced facilities in Lerwick.  And by joining with the rugby club, that partnership approach enables flexibility in the offering to ensure more people can be active for longer and hopefully, inspire more people to take up sport.

“Looking to the longer term, the proposals will help with plans to incorporate the women’s team into the wider youth network, enabling a full pathway to be created in Shetland. I was delighted to meet Rhea who is a role model in her own right, passionate about football and so keen to ensure she can create a women’s club that attracts women to play, regardless of age or ability.  With new sponsors ScottishPower backing the Highlands and Islands league, we discussed how we could work towards potentially incorporating a Shetland team into that structure, and the next Island Games in Orkney in 2025 could be a huge opportunity to build football opportunities across all our islands.

“I was so grateful to everyone from the club to take the time to chat with me, show me their plans and to start to work together for the betterment of girls’ and women’s football in Shetland – the potential is great and the opportunities ahead exciting.”

Scottish Women;'s Football to support Shetland

Michael Duncan, Club Chairman, said: “It was great to welcome Aileen to Lerwick and to talk through the opportunities ahead. We have seen fantastic growth in girls’ football and have been so pleased to see how well our girls compete against teams on the mainland.  We have to be nimble and creative in providing opportunities in Shetland and that was why it was good to be able to discuss with SWF directly some of our challenges and work out ways to help mitigate some of them in the future.

“Our plans are ambitious and exciting and we have a great chance to work with SWF and others to grow football in Shetland and to help realise the enormous potential that that brings.”

Club Secretary, Adam Priest added: “We were pleased to secure SWF’s support for plans to redevelop playing pitches at the Clickimin which will be a gamechanger in terms of being able to play more football and offer up more opportunities for girls and women to play.  This will include seeking to have more regularity in games and to offer up more recreational football.

“Looking ahead, the plans we have are to create a full pathway of football in Shetland for girls and women and to use the Island Games in Orkney in 2025 as a target to have a women’s team take part – we saw just how well the Western Isles team did in Guernsey and there is no reason why Shetland shouldn’t be aiming for the same.”

Rhea Nicolson, senior player, said: “My experience of playing football in Shetland is that we need more regularlity of football and an array of ways for women to take part. By joining with the girls club, Shetland Women have the chance to inspire young girls to recognise that at all ages and stages, there is a place for them and they can continue that love of football.  We would love to attract women who used to play and those that are interested in giving it a go. The mums that drop off their daughters to football training should consider joining up themselves!

“With effort and collaboration ahead of the Orkney Games, it is really feasible that Shetland Women’s team can kick on and participate.  That prospect will be enhanced with improvements to playing pitches which is why the plans for the Clickimin are so exciting.  I was pleased to tell Aileen how keen I am to work with the Girls club to help drive the game forward here in Shetland.”

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