Women's Euro 2017: Scots coaches use finals to learn lessons

By Amy MacBeathBBC Scotland at Euro 2017
Women's Euro 2017: Scots coaches use finals to learn lessons

While Scotland's Euro 2017 players focus on trying to reach the knockout stages, a group of coaches are using the tournament to build for the future.

The Scottish Football Association want to ensure that the experience of the finals in Holland is fully utilised.

Thirty-five coaches of female teams from across Scotland have been analysing Europe's top national sides.

The intention is to apply what they learn on the pitches of Peterhead, Perth and Paisley.

The hope, too, is to capitalise on the continuing growth of the women's game, with the national team having reached the finals of a major tournament for the first time.

The number of registered players has already doubled in the past six years, going from 5,541 in 2011-12 to 12,885 in 2016-17 according to the Scottish Government.

"First and foremost we want to continue the quality of coaching that girls are getting in Scotland," said Donald Gillies, head of girl's and women's football at the Scottish FA.

"We want to be able to say that players are getting exposed to the best practice regardless of whether or not it's men or women."

With European funding this group, from Scottish Women's Premier League 1 down to Division 2, have been meeting coaches from clubs across the Netherlands, including Ajax, as well as taking part in scouting and analysis of the European Championship matches.

Gillies told BBC Scotland: "The group is really good because it's filled with people from the length and breadth (of Scotland) and all levels of experience.

"So for coaches who are working at a lower football league level they're seeing things for the first time that they perhaps haven't considered.

"We are not looking to replicate what Holland or anyone else is doing, but if it gives the opportunity for them to think about things a different way, and improve what they are doing at their own club back home, then we certainly want them to be able do it.

Scotland's women's national team
Scotland are competing in the finals of a major tournament for the first time

"For the coaches at the top end of the game in Scotland - whether it's Hibs, Celtic or (Glasgow) City - they're looking at things a lot more in depth and there's plenty for them to get out of it as well, whether it's tactically, mentally or physically."

Gillies believes that the achievement of qualifying for the finals of a major tournament is vital for future success, and the governing body is aware of their responsibility to capitalise on it.

"We're at a point now that their status as role models is at such a level where other women are interested in playing and coaching," Gillies said.

"We've got a number of mentor programmes, we've got our very strong coach education programme at grassroots and now we want to start churning out more high-quality coaches and certainly a more regular amount of female coaches back home in Scotland."

Gillies said the group of 35 coaches have been following the European championship participants closely, to learn as much as they can.

"(There have been) loads taken from the games, like Holland who are fantastic to watch from their style of play, physicality, ability and their pace," Gillies said.

"From a sport science perspective, it's interesting to ask how they have got them to that standard and what they have done in their programmes at grassroots and senior game (level)."

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