Sunday, 8 July 2012

Scottish Women's Football 2012

Glasgow City (orange) VS Murieston Utd (blue/red). 10 June 2012.
Last summer I took my first foray into football photography, by covering a few league matches & an international friendly on behalf of Scottish Women's Football (SWF).
This summer I've been pitch-side again to photograph some relatively high-profile women's matches: The Premier League Cup Final, Second Division League Cup Final, (both games at Recreation Park, Alloa), and a Henson's Scottish Cup 2nd Round match in Livingston.
It has been a really enjoyable experience, and the developments that I've witnessed within the sport over the past year are very promising for its future growth within Scotland.

Hearts (maroon) VS Aberdeen Reserves (white). 20 June 2012. 
For example, many clubs are heavily promoting themselves on social networking sites; there are now a number of quality websites & reporters dedicated to the women's game in Scotland (see related links at bottom); and the mainstream media is slowly but surely getting around to featuring the sport on a bigger scale.
All this combined means that the sport has vastly grown; with bigger audiences, more commercial sponsorship, and a better standard of play on the pitch. But there is a very good reason for this rapid growth.

Glasgow City VS Murieston Utd. 10 June 2012.
Last summer, the Women's World Cup Final in Germany broke the record for most tweeted-about event, and worldwide interest in the sport has since soared.
In Scotland this rising interest was capitalised upon by SWF, which took to Twitter to engage the captive audience with a call-to-action, and soon enough a number of clubs, players, photographers, and reporters, were marketing the game to an ever-growing audience.
This was followed by Glasgow City FC, Scotland's leading women's club, progressing from the Women's Champions League qualifying round, and making it all the way to the last 16, where they were eventually knocked-out by 2x former champions, Turbine Potsdam.
Making this achievement all the more remarkable, is the fact that City (like all Scottish teams) are still an amateur club, with the squad playing around full-time jobs or university studies - whereas many of the Champions League teams were full-time professionals.

Glasgow City VS Spartans. 30 May 2012.
On an international scale too, while the Scotland men's team continue to stumble their way through matches and major qualifying campaigns (now ranked 49th in the world); the women's team are soaring from strength to strength (ranked 21st in the world).
The Scotland women currently sit second in their Euro 2013 qualifying group, behind undefeated leaders France (ranked 6th in the world), and need just one point from their two remaining games to be guaranteed a play-off spot!
If you have any interest at all in Scottish football, I'd really recommend getting yourself along to Tynecastle (Edinburgh) on 19th September to support the Scotland Women in their final Euro 2013 qualifying match against France. It should be a cracking game, and with tickets at only £5/adult (cheaper for kids), it's a real bargain!

Hearts celebrate winning the 2nd Division Cup Final. 20 June 2012.
Further proof of the impact Scottish women are having on the game at international level, include the fact that several players are now playing semi-pro football in the English FA Women's Super League. Meanwhile, Glasgow City's Jane Ross is one of only 3 non-English players selected for the Great Britain Women's Olympic team: And her former teammate, Lisa Evans, has just completed a transfer to Germany's Turbine Potsdam, where she will live her dream as a professional footballer!

Jane Ross (on ball) was recently selected for GB Olympic squad.
Lisa Evans (orange) in one of her last games before turning pro.
Scottish Women's Football is played on a summer season (unlike the men who play the traditional winter season), and has two national leagues (Premier & First Division), along with four regional Second Divisions.
If you need a footballing fix while the men are on holiday, why not give the women's game a shot? You may be pleasantly surprised...

Related links:
Scottish Women's Football (governing body).
SFA: Women's international fixtures.
The Away End

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