A LEADING Edinburgh girls football team say they are struggling to meet the demand for coaches after interest in the women’s game spiked amongst youth players following the Scottish national team’s participation in the European Championships last summer.
Louise Macleod is one of just five coaches responsible for 90 players across the set-up at Hutchison Vale girls and says the infrastructure around girls youth football lags well behind the increasing uptake of the sport.
Louise, 27, who combines her coaching career with a full-time job as a cremations operative at Warriston Crematorium, is now calling on more women to take to the sidelines.
She said: “As a former player, I know that stage a lot of girls get to at 17 or 18 where they stop playing and then just fall out of the game altogether, but the important thing is to keep them interested and motivated to do something a bit different and move into coaching.”
“The player numbers are getting better all the time and we’ve personally seen the effect the European Championships have had in persuading younger girls to come and try football.
“But if the game keeps growing in the way it is without enough coaches to support it, then it won’t develop, it will just stand still.”
Anna Signeul’s national side made history in September 2016 when they became the first Scottish women’s side to qualify for an international tournament by booking their place at the 2017 European Championships in the Netherlands.
The squad were narrowly eliminated in the group stage after finishing third behind Spain on goal difference.
Hibernian Ladies have also achieved success over the past year, competing in Uefa Women’s Champions League for the first time in 2016, attracting a crowd of more than 2,500 to Easter Road for a first round clash with German giants Bayern Munich.
Scotland women’s under-17 coach Pauline MacDonald said: “There are still plenty of opportunities for girls to get into football at a young age but what we find is that a lot of the coaches in the game are predominantly male.
“It would be great to encourage more women to stick with it and make them aware they can still be involved in the game, whether that’s in a coaching role, as a physio, there are lots of other roles around football off the pitch.”
A spokeswoman for Scottish Women’s Football (SWF), the governing body for the sport, said clubs are “actively” searching for more volunteers and coaches to help maintain the current levels of interest in the women’s game.
She added: “We are aware that there has been a surge of young girls wanting to play after the Euros and we were expecting that. In terms of figures we won’t know accurately until the start of next season when the players are registered for the 2018 one.”
“SWF are actively working with the Scottish FA to ensure that a football pathway is there for all girls who want to play whatever their age. We are actively looking for and helping clubs find volunteers and coaches to work with them.”