Best of British: Why Hibs deserve more credit for women's football development
Hibs are among Britain’s best in women’s football says head coach Dean Gibson – but not based on their league position.
The club finished fourth in the Scottish Women’s Premier League, behind the full-time Old Firm teams and 14-in-a-row champions Glasgow City. But that’s not the sort of credit Gibson is looking for, insisting the club should be aiming higher to be part of the top teams next term.
The acknowledgement that should be given instead, and is missing, he says, is for Ladies Academy work and youth development in the women’s game.
"Our squad is made up of 40 percent of players from the girls academy, Hibs don’t get enough credit for it,” Gibson revealed.
“I don’t think there are many clubs in Britain that will have a number as high as that. It is massive and I think it shows how good the girls academy is here. It’s a club that gives opportunities.”
It’s an ethos that runs through. Jack Ross has recently discussed how he is targeting blossoming Scottish talent, whether reared at East Mains or elsewhere, to take on to the next level and put his money where his mouth was and signed Daniel Mackay form Inverness, much like he had with Kevin Nisbet last summer.
That applies to the ladies team too, Gibson says.
"For Hibs it is something as a brand, nothing to do with gender, the club has always done.
"We always seem to develop players but for us, even finding young players is important. You might not bring them through the Academy yourself but signing young players is important – Jack has just done that with Daniel Mackay at Inverness – they’re the future of the Scottish game and have value.
"Young hungry players are always going to be important to a club like Hibs.”
One recently has been given the acknowledgement, of sorts, that Gibson is seeking. Leah Eddie – a 20-year-old defender who began her football career in Falkirk – was called into Stuart McLaren’s Scotland squad for her first cap. There’s usually a heavy Hibs presence anyway, “the last Scotland team had 10 or 11 players who had come through Hibs as well”, Gibson added.
He’s now working with a squad of players including some of the under-23s he coached previously, and is building around those players for a tilt at the top three in next season’s SWPL campaign.
“The good thing is, for the first time we have control and players under contract so no-one is going anywhere, which is good.
"Our plan at Hibs is now building two or three years in advance so we know what we are working with. You might get people leaving, or transfers out, but for us we know the majority of players will be here for the duration of their contracts and we can just add to them.
“There are teams investing money now. We do too – not to the extent of Rangers and Celtic, we are a little behind that, but I don’t think people can take away the history and reputation of this club.
"We will eventually get it right and next year I think could be the year we are really competitive with players who have come through our own Academy.”