Get Inspired: Surf and turf in football off-season

By Louise AndrewBBC Scotland
Kim Little and Jenny Beattie
Kim Little and Jenny Beattie are back home for Scotland's Euro 2017 qualifier against Macedonia in Paisley on Sunday

What do female international footballers do when their season ends in October? Some head to Australia to surf, sightsee and, well, to play more football.

"Last year I didn't play anywhere once I'd played in Seattle, so I had quite a long off-season," says Kim Little.

The 25-year-old Scotland player is currently on loan from Seattle Reign to Melbourne City.

She's sharing a university campus house with fellow Scotland team-mate Jenny Beattie, 24, along with two other overseas players.

Nearby is another house with four Australian team-mates (and two pet dogs).

Despite living on a campus, the pair haven't been taking part in the extracurricular and social opportunities of university life.

"You can hear a few student parties going on, but you're up for training the next day," says Beattie - who is on loan from Manchester City.

And of course there's the responsibility of ensuring the dogs get walked.

"It's a nice thing to do - to grab a coffee and go for an early morning walk before training," she adds.

The girls are training just as hard as usual, but are also trying to enjoy what Australia has to offer.

"We went to Sydney, which was awesome," says Beattie.

"We did a harbour cruise and saw the bridge and the opera house."

Little adds: "We're playing in Brisbane soon, so we're planning to spend a few days there."

Beattie and Little train beside the palm trees in Australia
Melbourne's Beattie and Little train beside the palm trees

Beattie has also been surfing with a couple of team mates who grew up on the Gold Coast.

"I say 'surfed' - I flopped around on a board for a few hours," she says.

The two friends also plan to go hiking.

They have a lot to fit in between training and matches, since the women's football season in Australia is only three months long.

And that includes a quick jaunt back to Scotland to play a home game against Macedonia.

Little says that while the level of football in Australia is lower than Manchester City and Seattle Reign, the training is just as intense.

"I do it because I need to do it to play football, but I also actually enjoy it," she says.

Beattie interrupts: "The enjoyment factor for the football is 100%, but I don't know anyone other than Kim who enjoys the feeling of pushing herself in training!"

Kim Little scores for Melbourne City against Brisbane Roar in the W-League
Kim Little scores for Melbourne City against Brisbane Roar in the W-League

Little explains: "I think I get that from my dad.

"He exercises a lot, and not really for anything other than his own enjoyment."

Both women come from sporty families. Little's older sister and younger brother both enjoy sports - her brother is currently training to become a top-level ski instructor.

Her long-term boyfriend Tom Pett, who lives in London, is also a professional footballer.

Beattie's dad is John Beattie - the former Scotland and British Lions rugby player. Her brother Johnnie is also a Scottish rugby union player.

Despite Beattie and Little both playing numerous sports as they grew up, the pair were drawn to football.

They were trail-blazers for the sport, with Little first playing for her boys primary school team in Aberdeenshire and Beattie playing for her school's boys team in Glasgow.

Beattie says: "Me and my best friend Sophie were the first girls to play for our school team, so that encouraged others.

"By the time I left school there was a full girls team."

It's important to them that women's football continues to gain recognition, with the Women's World Cup attracting a strong - though predominantly male - audience.

Scotland Women line up before a match against the Faroe Islands at Fir Park last year
Scotland Women line up before a match against the Faroe Islands at Fir Park last year

Little says: "It's great that more men are watching it.

"For them to watch women's football and to enjoy it - it's a great start."

"It's also important for girls to have more female sporting figures to look up to," adds Beattie.

People now see beyond the idea of it being a woman playing a male sport, she says, and instead it's recognised as a female profession in its own right.

The pair are mindful that a footballer's career can be a short one.

"Maybe I would go back to university," Little says.

"I would like to have a family - it is something you chat about to friends especially when you're in a sport."

At the moment she doesn't get much opportunity to see her boyfriend.

She adds: "I've made the choice that I want to pursue things as a footballer, and he's a pretty laid-back guy!"

Beattie has a business degree and hasn't ruled out more studies.

"You're always conscious of post-career and what's going to happen," she says.

"I know it sounds like a cliché, but I genuinely take each year as it comes."

In the meantime they are making the most of a job, which lets them play football and see the world.