Kim Little: Euro 2017 can kick-start women's professional league in Scotland

Kim Little and Scotland team-mates
Midfielder Kim Little has won 119 caps for Scotland

Scotland midfielder Kim Little hopes this summer's European Championship in the Netherlands can be the catalyst for a domestic professional women's game.

The Arsenal star is with the Scotland squad in Larnaca for the Cyprus Cup.

Only seven of the 22 in Anna Signeul's current squad play in Scotland.

"Of course you want to develop the game in Scotland but for the national game it's great we have players who have ambition and who want to go elsewhere to become full-time professionals."

Glasgow City have dominated the domestic game in Scotland but a lack of investment means only a handful of players can dedicate their careers to the game full-time.

Clubs like Celtic, Rangers and Hibs are affiliated to the men's set-up but receive no direct funding.

Scotland Women's Cyprus Cup ties
Scotland v New Zealand, Group B, Wednesday 1 March, 12:30 GMT
Scotland v Korea Republic, Group B, Friday 3 March, 15:30 GMT
Scotland v Austria, Group B, Monday 6 March, 15:30 GMT
Placing match, Wednesday 8 March

The contrast is stark in England and other countries such as Germany and France where they have fully funded professional leagues.

It is hardly surprising, then, that those nations and others like them dominate the international scene.

Little, who has just returned to the UK to play with Arsenal after a successful spell with Seattle Reign, left Scotland when she was only 16.

So do other young Scots need to do the same to get similar opportunities now?

"I think so - getting that opportunity has obviously helped me tremendously," said the 26-year-old.

"Because the league in Scotland is not professional, you can't expect players to train at the level needed to compete with the elite."

The Scottish Football Association recently announced that the home-based players in the Scotland squad will be funded full-time in a bid to prepare properly for their first major finals, but Little thinks the exposure and attention the competition will generate could help create a full-time league.

"What else is going to do it?" she said.

"More exposure creates opportunity and things can move forward. The Euros can definitely provide a platform."

Scotland women's squad for the Cyprus Cup

Goalkeepers: Shannon Lynn (Vittsjo), Lee Alexander (Glasgow City).

Defenders: Jennifer Beattie (Manchester City), Frankie Brown (Bristol City), Rachel Corsie (Seattle Reign), Ifeoma Dieke (Vittsjo), Emma Mitchell (Arsenal), Joelle Murray (Hibernian).

Midfielders: Leanne Crichton (Notts County), Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Lisa Evans (Bayern Munich), Hayley Lauder (Glasgow City), Kim Little (Arsenal), Joanne Love (Glasgow City), Christie Murray (Doncaster Rovers Belles), Leanne Ross (Glasgow City), Caroline Weir (Liverpool).

Forwards: Lizzie Arnot (Hibernian), Fiona Brown (Eskilstuna United), Lana Clelland (Tavagnacco), Jane Ross (Manchester City).

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