Shelley Kerr is first female boss in Scottish senior ranks

Interview - Stirling University boss Shelly Kerr

Shelley Kerr is to take charge of Lowland League club Stirling University, making her the first female manager in Scottish senior football.

The 44-year-old quit her position at Arsenal Ladies in June, having won three trophies in a 16-month reign.

"I think the management of players is different," Kerr told BBC Scotland. "I think women can sometimes be a little bit more difficult than men.

"But I see myself as a football coach, nothing to do with male or female."

Capped 59 times for Scotland, Kerr replaces Eddie May, who left to join the youth set-up at Hibernian, and will inherit a side that were runners-up last season but have lost their opening three matches this term.

Kerr, who will begin studying for a MSc in Sports Management at the university, was a player-manager at Kilmarnock, Hibernian and Spartans women's teams and had a four-year spell leading Scotland's Under-19s before Arsenal enlisted her.

"It doesn't faze me one bit," she said. "The main focus should be on the team.

"I've always had aspirations of working in the men's game and right now this seems like a really good fit for me.

Kerr led Arsenal to FA Cup success last season

"The university has great facilities and I'm going to be studying myself."

In May, Portugal's Helena Costa became the highest-profile female manager of a European men's team when she was named head coach of Clermont Foot in France.

Costa quit before taking charge for a single game because she found out players were hired without her consent, saying she had just been a face to attract publicity for the club.

Former France captain Corinne Diacre was appointed in her place.

Kerr, one of four women in the UK to hold a Uefa Pro-Licence for coaching, begins her new job with a home fixture against Dalbeattie Star on Saturday.

And she does not anticipate any difficulties arising from being the first female manager at this level.

"I've been involved in football a long time and, growing up in an era when there weren't that many girls playing football, I've had to combat many things," she continued. "Thankfully I haven't had that much abuse.

"I'm confident enough and completely focused on helping the guys develop as players. It shouldn't be about gender, it should be about your ability as a coach."

The Lowland League is administered by the Scottish FA and was established last year.

This season's winners will compete with the Highland League champions for a play-off with the side finishing bottom of League Two, the bottom tier of the Scottish Professional Football League.

Prior to the pyramid structure, teams had to be invited and voted into the league.