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We’ve made progress, but we can’t stand still, says women’s football chief

The SWPL and SWPL2 leagues were officially launched at Hampden Park on Thursday (Jeff Holmes/PA)
The SWPL and SWPL2 leagues were officially launched at Hampden Park on Thursday (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Women’s football in Scotland is hitting “milestone after milestone” but more can be done by the media and commercial sponsors to raise its profile, says the managing director of the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL).

Fiona McIntyre was speaking at the official launch of the SWPL and SWPL2 leagues at Hampden Park on Thursday, ahead of the season starting on Sunday.

It comes after Sunday’s inspiring Euro 2022 victory for England’s Lionesses, which FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said would “turbo charge” the women’s game.

On the growth of women’s football north of the border, Ms McIntyre said: “It feels like at the moment we’re getting milestone after milestone and new moment after new moment, and I think that just shows how positive a direction we’re going in.

“For those who maybe think it’s not possible, I think you just have to look down south to see what’s happened down there this weekend to see it is possible, but we’ve all got a responsibility.”

She said the media must “shine a spotlight” on women’s football in order to elevate it to a point where “we’re all talking about it”, adding: “It’s about all of us coming together to really drive the game forward.”

Ms McIntyre said she was the only girl in her school to play football and it became a way of identifying her.

“We want to get away from that,” she said. “We want it to be really normal for girls to play football, but to make that normal we have to give them the same role models that boys have. They need to see those role models regularly.”

Playing games in stadiums should become a normality too, she said.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s about not standing still because other nations aren’t standing still just now, so we need to keep pushing as well.”

Glasgow City and Scotland player Hayley Lauder said the encouragement from the Lionesses’ win on Sunday has been “absolutely massive”.

She said: “I think it’s not a coincidence that they’ve gone and achieved that. The resources that are available, finances, the backing that the players have, the staff have.

“I just think it’s massive for the women’s game in general – record-breaking crowds, it’s more visible and young girls and young boys.”

Ms Lauder said she initially moved abroad in order to play professionally, before returning to Scotland when the opportunity to do so in her home country arose.

“There’s no reason why young girls and women don’t have the opportunity to earn a living from playing football in this country,” she said.

“I was very lucky with my school. I played football with the boys and there was a girls’ team, but that’s not the same for everybody, and I think it’s massive and it’s important for it to be available to anybody that wants to play.

“Even watching it on the telly, it was incredible, and hopefully it’ll push women’s football again a little bit further.”