SCOTLAND’S Women’s National Team have inspired “the country and the next generation of wee girls and boys who dream of pulling on the Scotland shirt”, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs yesterday.

Her comments came just hours after Shelly Kerr’s side were knocked out of the Women’s World Cup in controversial circumstances.

At one point the Scots were three goals up and almost certain of qualification to the last 16, but three goals from the Argentinians in the last 20 minutes – the last the result of two decisions by the video assisted referee – saw them knocked out.

During First Minister’s Questions, Sturgeon committed the Government to helping develop the sport. She told MSPs: “Everyone who watched the match last night will have experienced the rollercoaster emotions and the heartbreak of the final result.

“In recent weeks, we have also watched a young talented national team take us to our first World Cup in 21 years, entertain us with some brilliant football, score five great goals and, most important of all, inspire the country and the next generation of wee girls and boys who dream of pulling on the Scotland shirt.

“We will do everything that we can to support the development of the women’s game.”

The First Minister said the team had “done Scotland proud”.

“You will be back stronger than ever in future,” she told the team.

Labour’s Richard Leonard used his FMQs to push for more money for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

He told MSPs that the total amount available has remained unchanged at £33 million since the scheme’s launch in 2013, which he said “represents a real-terms cut of £3.5 million”.

Citing a report released by Menu for Change, Leonard warned: “It’s so fundamentally under-resourced that local authorities do not even advertise the fund for fear of being able to cope with demand.

“This is the fund which hands out crisis grants to families in emergency situations. The First Minister is defending her Government’s decision to freeze this fund, over which they have responsibility.”

Responding, Sturgeon said that there had been more than 600,000 crisis grants issued in the last five years.

“We will continue to do what we can to provide support for individuals and families in need through the welfare fund (and) through the money we are spending mitigating the impact of Conservative Government welfare cuts,” she said.