Scotland Women stalwarts boost coaching conveyor belt

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Scotland Women stalwarts boost coaching conveyor belt

They set out to inspire a generation of girls after reaching their first major finals.

Now some of the Scotland squad are hoping to follow in the footsteps of their own role model - national head coach Shelley Kerr.

Hibernian midfielder Joelle Murray, who doubles as manager of her club's academy, is one of half a dozen players currently undertaking the Uefa B licence course.

"I used to play with her when I was younger just at the end of her playing career and seeing her journey inspires me and makes me want to go far in the coaching side of the game," she said.

"Shelley's a great role model for young aspiring girls but also for us playing in the national team because we know her journey.

"She's been there and done it and her experience in the game - both men's and women's - is invaluable. That will only be good for us and drive us forward."

Shelley Kerr
Shelley Kerr's stint as manager of Stirling University's men's side was considered a major breakthrough

Murray believes there are fewer boundaries to coaching after Kerr became the first woman in the UK to manage a men's team when she took over Lowland League outfit Stirling University in 2014.

In 2017 Scotland's national team played in the Euro 2017 finals, won their opening two World Cup 2019 qualifiers and moved up to eighth in the European rankings (23 in the world).

And the Scottish FA is looking to plug into that success by putting the current crop of more experienced players through their coaching paces.

They want women to make up at least 10% of the total number participating in their coaching courses, and in 2017 have achieved that. Of the 10,000 signed up this year in Scotland, 1,040 were women, more than 400 up on 2016.

Scotland Women captain Rachel Corsie is another who has seized the opportunity to develop her career.

"It's something that the Scottish FA are pushing - trying to keep players involved, as it is something that's prevalent in the men's game and we want to try to replicate that in the women's side," she said.

Joelle Murray
Joelle Murray is already working towards a future in coaching

"With Shelley's appointment, it's great to have somebody who is Scottish, who's played, who a lot of the girls know, look up to and aspire to."

The Seattle Reign defender reckons an increase in the number of female managers is a natural progression.

"It's about having the experienced players who have a lot of knowledge and playing background and keeping them within the game," said Corsie.

"That growth has happened a lot over the last 5-10 years in Scotland and that's great for future talent. They'll be able to identify with these players who have played professionally who are now able to get back involved."

The Scottish FA's attempts to draw more women into coaching comes as the head of women's football at the Football Association in England, Baroness Sue Campbell, has claimed that they are struggling to find female candidates for the national job after the departure of Mark Sampson.

Former Arsenal and England midfielder Rachel Yankey has said the biggest barriers are the lack of coaching opportunities and the absence of female role models.

However, Scotland is one of seven nations out of 55 in Europe whose national squads are coached at all levels by women, with Pauline Hamill taking the under-19s and Pauline MacDonald overseeing the under-17s.

Rachel Corsie
Rachel Corsie was in the Scotland squad that went to the Netherlands for the Euro 2017 finals

Between them and senior squad counterpart Kerr, they have 236 caps for Scotland.

"Up here in Scotland, we are not as professional a league as they are down in England, but the Scottish FA run a lot of good coach education courses," Murray said. "The support female coaches get up here in Scotland is fantastic.

"It's great to see Shelley being such an integral part of the national team when she was playing and now heading up the team.

"You've also got experienced coaches within our youth national team set-up, so it's absolutely fantastic to see where they've come from."

For now, Murray and Corsie will continue to focus on their club and international duties, including their World Cup qualifying campaign, which continues in the new year.

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