THE question always arises – where were you when? People always remember where they were when something of extreme importance happened; the first moon landing, Michael Jackson’s death, James McFadden’s goal for Scotland in the 2008 Euros in the Parc des Princes in France! For me, last week, I had one of these moments, while I was sunning myself abroad...

The Scottish FA Women’s National Team did it, they qualified for the Uefa Championships finals in The Netherlands next year. Great news indeed and I was quite gutted not to be at home to read and hear all about this wonderful achievement first hand. After many previous attempts to qualify, having made the play-offs on several occasions in the past, the Scottish FA Women’s National Team have now made history and qualified for the Uefa Championships for the first time, and they did it at that point, without even having to kick a ball.

With the possibility of qualification through results elsewhere, the squad was assembled, patiently waiting for the results to roll in, and they weren’t left disappointed. Followers on social media could see the amazing reaction from the players as Portugal kindly ensured that qualification was in the bag for the Scots, with a 3-2 win over Finland.

Scotland, having won all of their games in the group stage except the last home game against Iceland which they lost 4-1, now had to travel to Iceland. I am sure that they were feeling very happy and content, at this moment in time, although there was still a game to be played to finalise the group stages. So they travelled north to finish the group stages, secure in the knowledge they had already qualified. That must have been a sweet moment.

No complacency though, as the team went out and played their hearts out, winning 2-1. This result has sent out a strong message to all girls who aspire to play football. My hope is that this is also a strong message to the media and to commercial sponsors. Pay more attention to women in sport! They are winning, they are achieving, they have a strong product and they are commercially appealing.

Now, to capitalise on this success, we wait for the build-up which I trust will be engineered by the Scottish FA, and the recently announced friendly on Thursday, October 20, against The Netherlands at the Tony Macaroni Arena in Livingston, should be the start of some tasty games to keep supporters happy and to encourage new supporters to come out.

However this also provides an opportunity to work at the promotion of the women’s game and help increase participation figures and strengthen the base. Currently the body responsible for the domestic side of the game, Scottish Women’s Football is focusing its energies towards increasing participation to 20,000 by 2020. Sitting at around 11,000 members, this is a big ask, but qualification and participation in the Euros offers the perfect platform to kick-start the numbers campaign.

If we grow the game to the figure suggested, we will need a strong infrastructure to support it. More officials, more administrators, more pitch-time, more volunteers – there are so many different areas that will require to fall into place to ensure success. A strategic plan, pulling all areas together compiled and led by the Scottish FA, should ensure maximum benefit. Let’s not be insular here, we need to engage outside football, to learn from other sports to understand how to engage with girls and women and encourage more support into all areas of the women’s game in Scotland. Hopefully through this work we can create a strong fanbase to ensure an enthusiastic supporters’ voice is there to support the team going into the finals next year. Good luck to the team for 2017.

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