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Women’s Football facelift one step closer to deserved recognition

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Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

Yesterday’s launch of the new brand identity for the Scottish Women’s Premier League is one step closer to the game being taken seriously by a culturally backward nation as Scotland, when it comes to its football.

Football in this country has been seen predominantly as a men’s sport, despite the women’s game being the fastest growing sport in the country – even the world. It is still classed by many football fans and sports journalists as a game that is no better than a Sunday pub team league.

However, Rangers keeper Khym Ramsay believes that those who peddle sexist comments about the game have to remember that the women’s game is different to that of the men’s game.

She said: “I think people have to look at it, it’s a completely different sport, for example we have a game against one of our youth boys teams. We bring something different to the pitch, they are fast and quick, they are powerful. Whereas we are more technically better. As a sport it has to be perceived differently.

“[Its] only sexist people who say football’s not for girls, now that opinion is being brushed under the carpet.”

Spartan Ladies player Alana Marshall, echoed Ramsay’s comments in relation to those critics of the women’s game, she said: “The Women’s game is one of the fastest growing sports at the minute, I think it’s a bit sexist to say that it’s just a men’s game.”

On the rebranding of the women’s top league, both Ramsay and Marshall were hopeful that the new identity for the game would help it grow further and receive more publicity.

Ramsay added: “We want our game to grow, we play with passion and to see so many young girls and so many teams and leagues throughout the country; when I was younger, maybe a team was 20-30 miles from you and that’s the team you trained with. But now there’s a local team in every single wee town and village and its great to see. Hopefully it can keep growing.

Marshall said: “Hopefully [the branding will]make it [the game]bigger, hopefully it starts to get some notice. I think women’s football deserves it, all the hard work the girl puts in especially with full-time jobs. We put in as much hard work as the guys do.”

While the fans are now being educated through not only through our coverage of the sport, but also the likes of Alan Campbell’s articles in some of the mainstream newspapers, elements of the sports journalism fraternity need to open their eyes to the sport also. It wasn’t that long ago that the Daily Record writer Gordon Parks was taken to task over his comments about funding in relation to the women’s game and female role models – in fact he was not only humiliated in print, he was also humiliated on national telly all the while claiming he wasn’t being sexist. Give Parks credit though, he attended a training session with Scotzine columnist Kevin Murphy’s Hamilton Accies women’s side, opening up to how much effort, determination, passion and sheer will the women players put into their training sessions let alone a game.

Sadly Parks is not alone, as there are many others out there including female journalists – one in particular who works for a club that has an SWPL side, but they are not as naive or stupid enough to stick their head out above the parapet to voice their disapproval for fear of being classed as sexist and being shown up for not having any clue about the sport at all. And that is the crux of the matter, the majority of critics of the women’s game have no knowledge of it, they may read a scoreline and come to their own conclusions without seeing or hearing the game at all. Others I have spoken too may have witnessed a Champions League game on the television featuring SWPL champions Glasgow City as they faced off against Turbine Potsdam two seasons ago – that scoreline wasn’t pretty for the Scottish side – and many made their minds up on that showing. Again failing to take into account that the German sides, along with the French and Scandinavians are the equivalent to Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG playing against a Scottish side which is amateur in name, but not in desire, work rate or passion.

Officially unveiling the new brand yesterday, Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, said: “It is my pleasure to help launch this new Scottish Women’s Premier League brand, which, for the first time, will help bring together all the top clubs and players to promote positive role models and ambassadors for young girls, by raising the profile of women in football, and sport in general.

“We have an excellent working relationship with the Scottish FA and Scottish Women’s Football, and have played a key role in helping support the growth of girls and women’s football in Scotland. This support has helped the Scotland women’s national team reach it’s highest ever ranking, and saw Glasgow City advance to the last 16 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.”

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Currently, the Scotland men’s side under Gordon Strachan is sitting at a lowly 50th in the world sandwiched between the Cape Verde Islands and Panama – whether they deserve to be there or not is another matter entirely, but Scottish football – at least from the mens side of the game – is at its lowest ebb in its history both domestically and internationally. We can argue to we are blue in the face, who is responsible or what is responsible for our games demise, but why not take heart from the women’s team?

The Scotland women’s team, while missing out on a place in EURO 2013 with a last kick of the game goal from Spain, have boosted the women’s game in Scotland. They are ranked 20th in the world and have played against some of those sides that qualified for the tournament in Sweden, and were not overawed nor fazed by it. They are also ranked 11th in Europe and with eight players playing in professional leagues across Europe, backed up by talented players in Scotland – things are looking up for the women’s game.

We saw how the media jumped onto the bandwagon when Scotland were playing Spain at Hampden in the playoffs, we also saw them do so with Glasgow City in the Champions League. The BBC, the Scottish Sun, the Daily Record, the Scotsman, the many local newspapers and from this week onwards Radio Clyde [thanks to yours truly]are now covering the women’s game. The promotion and coverage of the women’s game can only get bigger and better, and as Khym Ramsay and Alana Marshall stated previously, the players and the games deserves its recognition.

Can you think of any male footballer who would train early in the morning, then go and work full-time before heading to training in the evening five days a week. Playing a game every week, sometimes twice in a week and not getting paid for it? Players who go on international duty or attend events such as yesterday’s at Hampden – take days off work which costs them money, but they look to such things as helping their development as players as well as the sport in general. Again what male footballer does that, could do that or is willing to do that?

As a kid, wanting to become a footballer was my dream likewise my mates dreams. While one or two of our group ‘made it’ in varying degrees, it was never about the fancy cars, the ‘plastic fantastic’ WAGs on our arms nor the money in our bank accounts – it was about scoring an Archie Gemmill-esque goal at the World Cup, about scoring goals like Dalglish did and for those who could, playing ‘keepy uppy’ in an England game just like Jim Baxter – before scoring that winning goal.

Youngsters nowadays wanting to be the next big thing in football, should ditch trying to emulate the Nando’s generation of footballers that seem to have sprung up in our game recently, those who shame the sport with their on field & off field antics and others who love to boast about how much money they have, and turn their attention to the real role models in football. Those female footballers in the Scottish game who play not for riches nor for the fame, but for the passion and for the love of the beautiful game. Football fans nowadays have more in common with the female footballers than they do with their overpaid male counterparts, we should not mock them or belittle them, we should respect them and have our kids aspire to be just like them and have a work ethic like them also.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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