With the Scottish Cup being decided this Saturday and the ongoing sagas of the football world rolling on, it’s worth reflecting on the winning achievements of women’s football today and in years gone by. The Scottish Women’s National team is currently ranked 23rd in the world in international women’s football. (Just for comparison, the Scottish Men’s National team is currently lying at 66th in the world rankings.)
Women’s football has faced a number of hurdles over the years. In the early 1920s in the UK, its matches were attracting over 50,000 spectators. However these achievements were squashed by England’s Football Association who banned the game from grounds used by its member clubs. Incredibly, this ban was not lifted until 1971. It still faces a struggle to be taken seriously in the UK amongst some quarters, despite the growing success of teams here. Of course, elsewhere in the world, women’s football receives plenty of respect and its media coverage is on a par with men’s football. In the USA, the Women’s Professional Soccer League was formed in 2009. The UEFA Women’s Champion’s League was set up in 2000 and last year attracted 53 contending teams from across Europe. In England, where this Saturday the Women’s FA cup final will be played, a semi professional league is being established, the Women’s Super League who will play a series of matches over the summer. The games will be shown on ESPN.
Girls playing football today still face discrimination as a recent story in the Edinburgh Evening News shows. Alyshia Walker is her team’s captain and top scorer whose Under Thirteen team Fauldhouse Foxes recently won the final of the Scottish Cup. This means they qualify for the national competition being run in England, but under English FA rules, girls can no longer play in a boy’s team if they are over 11 so Alyshia won’t be playing.
Wester Hailes produced some high flying women’s teams, most notably Hailes United Ladies FC who won a cabinet of trophies across Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, including the Italy Cup three times in five years. You can read about their achievement in 1995 by clicking here on Sentinel August 1995. The team had become Tynecastle Women’s team by then but they played with the same skill and heart to win at the Bentigodi Stadium, Verona. From There…To Here featured the Hailes United Ladies FC in posts last year. You can see these posts by clicking here on Magnificent United and The Day Wester Hailes Won The Cup!
Girls’ football was also popular in Wester Hailes with girls teams being established acrosss the area. In 1995, the Sentinel reported on the newly formed Clovenstone Girls. You can read more about the team by clicking here on Sentinel July 1995. The team went on to win their first trophy at the Meadows School Festival, beating a boys’ team in the final.
The Woods Youth Centre also formed a girls’ team who were featured in the Sentinel in November 1995. The Woods Youth Centre five-a- side team were the first team from Wester Hailes to win the Edinburgh Region for the Scottish National finals of the Reebok Fives. You can read about their achievement by clicking here on Sentinel July 1996.
We’ll leave the last word to Alan Wood who wrote an article for the Sentinel in July 1995, highlighting the growing success of women’s football and the career path it potentially offered those at the top of their game.