Scotzine would like to announce a brand new feature to the site called Women’s Football Weekly. Dedicated to the women’s game in Scotland we talk to the best that our game has to offer from its managers and coaches to the players and officials at club and international level. This week, our new columnist Mark Nisbet – Forfar Farmington Head Coach – looks at the challenges that face his club.
When I was asked to write a weekly article on women’s football I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested in reading it, but I soon realised it was an opportunity to change mind sets and pre-conceived opinions on the game. Something I am keen to do.
In my weekly column, I will cover a variety of issues affecting the development of the game whilst also trying to give you an insight into the week-to-week commitment of the people involved.
So where to begin?
Various topics sprang to mind but I’m going to start off with the challenges that face my club, Forfar Farmington FC, in trying to compete at elite level in this country whilst being based in a relatively rural location.
In a town populated by around 14,000 people, Forfar is by no means blessed with a large catchment area for female footballers so we have had to think out of the box a little to ensure continued development and to give people the opportunity to achieve their goals.
We decided to build a product and brand not just for the people of Forfar but to try to build a club that could attract some of the top talent in Angus and the surrounding areas, ensuring we became the top female club in the North East of Scotland in the first instance.
I’m happy to report that to date we have around 200 players ranging from six-years-old to early to mid 30’s playing for the club.
We are blessed to have some outstanding talents at all age groups of the club and have also expanded to recruit some of the top talents from around the country to play for our club.
Players travel on a weekly basis from Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Dunfermline to train and play for Forfar Farmington which is a fantastic effort.
The players at the elite level of the club train three evenings a week plus two mornings, while also doing strength and conditioning sessions away from the club.
The next question you may ask is how much do these players get paid for this commitment level?
Well my answer will not come as a shock to many of you, but for some on the outside of the game you will be interested to learn that these players are all amateur, meaning that no payment is made to them and in fact it actually costs them a great deal of personal expense to play for the club they have grown to love and become part of what we refer to as the FClub family.
So why do it? Well like I said earlier in the article it was about building a product and brand that people responded to, wanted to be part of and could buy in to.
At the elite level in particular I wanted to have an experience for players that could rival a professional set up that men’s football is lucky enough to have. Coupled with being able to provide a large amount of training opportunities I felt it was important to have a large support staff for the players and to date we have around ten people ranging from coaches, sports scientists, video analysts, physios and admin staff dedicated to the SWPL players – again all operating on an unpaid basis as volunteers.
This has been a long process (around eight years in total) to get to this stage and the project is far from finished although onfield success has grown year on year. Players, coaches and clubs are ultimately judged on what you win when talking about elite level performance and to date we are still left wanting in this area but are absolutely determined to change this.
We have an exciting group of players through the club to work with and equally important in all of this is the desire to put our club on the map when talking about elite level women’s football in this country.
With the continued support from our partners at Forfar Athletic, I am sure that football in the town of Forfar will go from strength to strength.
In next week’s article I will be looking at the financial demands of women’s football in this country.