How bumper new deal allows Spartans women to operate at higher level
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The deal – three times bigger than anything the men or women’s team have secured previously – builds on the existing support that FNZ has provided the Spartans youth teams over the last two years and now extends to the women’s first team.
All women’s and girls' teams – from the first team through to the age grade sides (10-18-years-old) – will benefit from top-class sports facilities at Ainslie Park and will wear FNZ on their playing and training kit.
The first team, who compete in Scottish Women's Premier League's top flight, have enjoyed a fine start to the 2022/2023 campaign and are currently fifth in the standings. Graham is confident this investment will enable the women's first team to be more competitive across the board while building for the future.
"This will help us be more competitive and I think it is important because our strategy is to continue to play young girls and give them the opportunity to play in the first team," he told the Evening News. "That's maybe not the case for the Glasgow clubs because they have to win and get into Europe. We've always had under-17 and 19 Scottish internationalists because we've given them that platform within a developing environment.
"The three Glasgow clubs and Hibs are the full-time clubs with Hearts made up of mostly full-time players too, so the landscape has changed. I think with this investment we can at least compete at the top end of Edinburgh women's football."
Graham continued: "All the women and girls use the sustainable kit, it's quite a bit more expensive but everyone looks the same. And for the 10-year-old girls to be wearing the same strip as the first team is fantastic.
"If any team wants to compete at the top level of Scottish football with the full-time clubs, training two or three times each week won't be enough because you can't sustain that kind of fitness across the league programme. So, for the women's first team we've gone this year from three training sessions to five per week and two days we do double sessions.
"We now provide food, extra sports science input, we have Donald Park coaching so we've upped the regime and this funding has helped us to do that. So, we're just operating at a different level now to what we were before.
"We also have Debbi McCulloch who is an outstanding coach. She's on the global FIFA programme because they recognise how good she is. So, if you have quality facilities and coaching then it helps everyone.
"Every week in our girls' section we've got new ones coming along. The culture is shifting because the last couple of home games the younger ones who have just watched the first-team's match are queuing up for autographs of the players. So, it's flourishing and FNZ helps us get capacity to take the growth and demand."
FNZ group chief financial officer Kris Love said: “We are delighted to have extended our support with the Spartans Football Club and to help grow women’s and girls' sport across Scotland.
"What sets Spartans apart is its social enterprise model of investing profits into the local north Edinburgh community. Our partnership with them enables us to support a community we care about and helps bring much-needed and much-deserved support to women and girls' football.”