Scotland Women’s National Team goalkeeper Lee Alexander returned to her hometown of East Kilbride last night to launch the latest Scottish FA Soccer Centre presented by SSE.
Alexander, who recently helped Scotland to qualify for their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup, played a vital role in ensuring the success of the campaign, saving a crucial penalty in the home tie against Poland.
The Glasgow City shot-stopper began her footballing career in East Kilbride, however, turning out for her primary school before joining a local girls’ team at the age of eight.
She now hopes to inspire the next generation of the country’s female footballers in her role as a Scottish FA Soccer Centre ambassador, along with fellow SWNT players such as Kim Little and Lisa Evans.
Launched prior to UEFA Euro 2017, the Scottish FA Soccer Centres presented by SSE provide a fun and welcoming environment for young girls to hone their footballing skills, as well as grow in confidence and develop both as players and as individuals.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Alexander expressed her pride at seeing a centre established in such familiar surroundings.
“It’s amazing. The fact that it’s at the John Wright Sports Centre too – it’s a place I know and remember really well.
“If you look at the opportunities for girls now, especially with the Soccer Centres, anyone can go along and play.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s their first time or whether they’re a player at a local club, they can just kick a ball around and be a part of a team.
“Sport brings out the character in people, and to have something like that for young girls is excellent.
“It can be a real platform for young kids. If they enjoy it, then they might go on to join local teams and become a part of other programmes and pathways in Scottish football.
“We’re in a really privileged position to have our names put to the centres. It’s such a great thing to get you involved in the game – when we were younger, we never had anything like this.”
Donald Gillies, Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football at the Scottish FA, echoed this sentiment.
“In 2017 there were 12,356 registered female players in the game, with 43% of those coming from Under-12s.
“That age group also saw an increase of 1180 players from 2016 which is a fantastic number to grow the game in 12 months.
“It’s just a glimpse into the potential that the girls’ and women’s game has, and the Soccer Centres presented by SSE are a driving force in this area.
“Delivery partners are delighted to be part of the project and it’s providing a fantastic first step for girls to learn about and enjoy the game.”