IT’S never a waste of time to take a walk down memory lane, in fact it has been proven to be a great mood enhancer, especially for those who are perhaps a little further down the path of life.

Last Tuesday night on #letshearitforthegirls, we had Shelley Kerr, Coach of the women’s national team at the Scottish FA, and we took that journey. Shelley and I have been on many a trip together whilst she was a national squad player, and in that environment when you are together just about 24/7, strong friendships are born.

It was fascinating, however, to go back in time with Shelley and hear about how her love of football started at a very early age, out in the back garden with her brothers and then onto Primary school, where she was the only girl playing in the boys team. At that time, when she moved into Secondary School, rules did not allow for mixed football over the age of twelve, so she had no other choice but to sign up for a women’s team. Basically that speaks volumes about the character of an individual, when at that early age, she is, albeit subconsciously, breaking down barriers.

In fact it wasn’t until the arrival of Vera Pauw, in September 1998, who was appointed the first full-time coach and technical director of the SWNT that this rule changed. Again need I say, through grit and determination, as this was completely new territory for the decision makers at the Scottish FA. However they were happy to support the change and this now allows young girls to play in a mixed team until the age of fifteen. Vera was in Scotland at the same time as her husband Bert van Lingen, who was working as assistant manager of Rangers F.C. in Glasgow. She left in October 2004 to take up a similar role with the Netherlands and led her home country to the semi–final of Uefa Women’s Euro 2009, something I know she is extremely proud off as well as the fact that she was the first female Dutch player to play professionally outside her country, when she signed for Italian club CF Modena in 1988.

Shelley herself has had many accolades in football, a powerful centre-back who captained Scotland, won 59 caps and played until she was 39 years old. Following that she was manager of Scotland U19 WNT, going onto Arsenal FC where she led the team to an FA Women’s Cup and Continental Cup double in 2013, and a second FA Cup in 2014 – impressive.

However she is probably better known to those outside the women’s game as the first woman to manage a British senior men’s team, when she was appointed by Stirling University to manage their side who play in the Scottish FA Lowland League.

Talking to myself and Liz Clark, the co-host of the show on Tuesday nights, she told us how she couldn’t believe how global the announcement went, with requests from all over the world for an interview. The University themselves had a glowing recommendation as they are quoted as saying: “She was the stand out candidate from a very strong application process.”

Obviously our chat came around to the current role and the job in hand with qualification for the 2019 Women’s World Cup uppermost in her mind.

She has two games coming up in April that are crucial to cement the team as contenders for qualification, Away to Switzerland on Thursday, April 5 and at home to Poland on Tuesday, April 10, at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.

As always the plea is for people to come out and support the team, to give them that extra boost, and tickets are available on the door on the night for a 7.35pm kick-off. Hopefully boasting a fully-fit squad as Kim Little and Rachel Corsie, amongst others, return from injury, as these are two major games for the team. With players such as Erin Cuthbert and Claire Emslie on top form, on paper things look good, however, Shelley doesn’t underestimate the challenge that lies before them and is fully engrossed in her preparations to support the team to achieve their maximum potential.

Everyone who meets Shelley speaks highly of her, and she is a lovely person. However, don’t be fooled, Shelley is a determined individual, not in the least shy of making difficult decisions and doing things her way – let’s show our support to her and the team.