Scotland Women: All players to be full-time up to World Cup with Government funding

Scotland reaching World Cup is 'potentially transformational'

All of the Scotland women's squad will be able to train full-time for next year's World Cup after a funding boost from the Scottish Government.

Home-based players who are not professional currently combine working with playing for leading sides such as Glasgow City and Hibernian.

But around £80,000 of funding will mean Shelley Kerr's squad will be full-time from January to the tournament in June.

"This is great news for everyone in Scottish women's football," Kerr said.

"On the back of such a monumental achievement in qualifying for the World Cup, the positivity around the women's national team has been amazing.

"We need to continue to generate support and hope as many people as possible come out to support us in France next year.

"Throughout the campaign, the team has built up resilience, they have character in abundance and they play exciting football. It comes down to the product as well and we have aimed to entertain from the start."

Nineteen of the 23 players in the squad Kerr named for the final two qualifiers against Switzerland and Albania are already professional, with 15 in England, two in Sweden, one in Italy and one in the United States.

But squad regulars Jo Love, Leanne Crichton, Hayley Lauder and Lee Alexander (all Glasgow City) and Hibernian duo Joelle Murray and Jenna Fife play in the Scottish Women's Premier League (SWPL), which is almost exclusively amateur.

'Some days I'm out for 12 hours'

"This announcement gives our home-based players an opportunity to train more, but also to rest more," head coach Kerr told BBC Scotland.

"Some of them have to juggle full-time or part-time employment, or full-time education, as well as training with their clubs four or five times a week, on top of a strength and conditioning program as well.

"It is a big ask for those players who are not in a professional environment, and we need to make sure we support them as best we can. It is a huge weight off my shoulders and I know it is the same for the players."

Glasgow City midfielder Love, 32, is one of Scotland's part-time players, who must balance her day job with the demands of football.

"Particularly at my age, it's getting a bit harder," she said. "Some days I'm out the house for 12 hours between training in the morning, going to work then training at night.

"Elite athletes will tell you that you can't go at 100mph all the time. Hopefully I'll find that balance and be top of my game come the World Cup.

"The manner the Scottish players train is nothing short of professional, it's really just the time to dedicate 100% every time we're there. The idea is we can promote women's sport, women's football and raise the level of the game and get closer to the set-up England have got."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a patron of the Scotland women's national team, believes their World Cup qualification has created a "watershed moment" for the game in Scotland.

"This funding will also strengthen women's and girls' football in this country, and also give Shelley and her squad the best chance of success in the finals," said Ms Sturgeon.

"We want to increase participation of women and girls in sport and I hope the success of the women's team inspires more women and girls to get involved in sport, from grassroots activity to elite level."

The Women's World Cup is being staged in France and Scotland have qualified for the first time, after reaching their first major finals at last year's European Championships.

The draw for the tournament takes place on 8 December.

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