Smiles all round as Hibs girls resume training in big numbers
Hibs girls have returned in big numbers and with lots of smiles on faces after being given the green light to resume training, Joelle Murray has confirmed.
The club’s women and girls academy manager is fully supportive of most of the decisions made by the football authorities during the pandemic, dismissing fears expressed by Glasgow City chief executive Laura Montgomery of a “lost generation” of girls to the game.
Murray, a Scotland internationalist who also plays for Hibs Ladies, acknowledges that many younger players will have some catching up to do in terms of development.
However, she believes none of that could be helped and is encouraged by the response this week as Hibs academy girls from the under-11s to the under-19s returned to training.
“They’ve been away from football for a considerable time, so they were delighted to get back on the training pitch,” said Murray. “There’s a social element to this as well, of course. So it was great for them to be back seeing friends they haven’t seen for months. Needless to say there were lots of smiles.”
Montgomery fears there are “loads of young girls who will have simply stopped playing football and might not come back,” arguing that stopping the senior women’s game meant they could not watch their role models, unlike boys who have been able to follow the Premiership and Championship in Scotland.
Hibs, of course, are at the elite end of the female game. Nevertheless, Murray has been impressed with the numbers at training this week.
She explained: “The worry on the back of these lockdowns has been how it affects players, both physically and mentally. But it was good to see a very high percentage of players back.
“At a youth academy, you have players transitioning through by age and technical ability. Players have potentially missed a year of seven or nine-a-side football and are at 11-a-side. That will take time to get used to. I think generally the right calls have been made, especially for us as a women’s first team.
“Kids have been off school, so it is difficult to argue that young players could have been allowed to mix at football. For me, the decisions have been right. We’re all just delighted to be back.”