The women’s game in Scotland at the moment is extremely different from when I was a youngster, making the step up from Hibernian U17’s to the women’s team. I was 17, training and playing alongside national team players such as Amanda Burns, Stacey Cook and Debbie McWhinnie. I was in awe of these players, players with such prestige and who had represented their country on a number of occasions.
At Hibs we trained on a Tuesday and Thursday, two sessions a week which I think was the case with the majority of the other women’s Premier League teams at that time. There was no additional strength or endurance sessions and although it was frowned upon some players would only make one session per week due to work commitment or other reasons. Although this is nothing compared to today’s training schedules we did have some very successful seasons winning numerous silverware and producing some talented players, namely one in particular Kim Little.
My weekly training would consist of club training on a Tuesday and Thursday and development squad, which turned into elite squad on a Friday evening. The focus was never on strength or any other aspects of the game.
Compare this to the modern player today and everything is taken into consideration, ranging from strength sessions, speed sessions and endurance sessions on top of club training. My weekly schedule at the moment consists of three club sessions, two strength sessions and two endurance sessions. Along with a full-time job this is hard to maintain, however its very fulfilling seeing the improvements on and off the pitch.
Players from an early age are now being educated on the importance of strength, endurance, speed and nutrition. I think the benefits of this is evident in countries such as France and Germany where from an early age this is being relayed to them. Players in this country are being made aware that all of the above aspects contribute to the all round player and the focus shouldn’t solely be on football sessions.
I was recently at the U15 national camp as a “role model” and it was great to see that the girls were being educated on this and also good to hear their feedback and positive attitudes towards this.
The game is ever-changing on and off the pitch and this is evident in our current league set up and position of the national team under Anna Signeul. The changes she has made and is still making will only continue to keep us heading in the right direction and competing at the top-level with other elite athletes/countries. Demands on players are certainly increasing but it’s all for the good of the game.