On Saturday 25th February, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined with sportscotland, SSE, and Scottish Football Partnership to publicly announced a joint funding agreement that will enable domestically based international players to train full time at Heriot Watt University’s Oriam facilities ahead of the UEFA Women’s European Championships, taking place this summer in the Netherlands.
The Hampden Park press conference also featured Scotland manager Anna Signeul, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell MSP, current Chair of sportscotland and co-founder of the Homeless World Cup Mel Young, and the SSE’s Head of Sponsorship Colin Banks.
Scotland Women’s manager Anna Signeul (pictured above alongside SRtRC Campaigns Manager Nicola Hay, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon) stated that the partnership demonstrates that the organisations “care about the women's game in Scotland and are willing to help the players improve.” She added that having Scotland’s “best domestic players” preparing alongside teammates who already train full time “will stand us in good stead ahead of July." Euro 2017, taking place between Sunday 16th July and Sunday 6th August, is the first major championship that Scotland’s women’s team have qualified for. Their opening game in Group D will take place against England on Wednesday 19th July (19:45 GMT), with subsequent matches against Portugal on Sunday 23rd July (18:00 GMT), and Spain on Thursday 27th July (19:45 GMT). Domestically based players set to benefit from the funding will include Glasgow City goalkeeper Gemma Fay (Scotland’s all time most capped player), fellow Century Club member Joanne Love, and Hibernian striker Lizzie Arnot. Previously only Scottish players based in the likes of Sweden (currently Shannon Lynn and Ifeoma Dieke of Vittsjö GIK, and Fiona Brown of Eskilstuna United), Germany (Lisa Evans of FC Bayern Munich), or the USA (Rachel Corsie of Seattle Reign) were able to train full time. The squad are currently preparing to face New Zealand (Wednesday 1st March), Korea Republic (Friday 3rd March), and Austria (Monday 6th March) in the Cyprus Cup, before taking on Belgium in a friendly scheduled for Tuesday 11th April. Signeul will leave her role following Euro 2017 after twelve years in charge to become Head Coach of the Finland Women’s Team.