Before the politically correct brigade get all hot and bothered, it’s worth examining just why the SFA and their partners spend £1.2million each year to bankroll a ladies’ version of a game played in men’s shorts.
Let’s not skirt around the issue just because accusations of gender apartheid and mock outrage will follow. At the last count, 4400 registered players in Scotland engage in women’s football which is the fastest growing sport on the planet.
But put political correctness to one side and ask whether the clamour for equality justifies the amount of cash and resources being thrown at it when grassroots football is in neglect.
There’s a pressure to appreciate the women’s game which is based on nothing more than a sexual equality argument that makes it taboo to call it like it is.
But just because you can’t name a single female tartan talent doesn’t make you ignorant, it’s down to a shocking lack of feminine Scottish role models in sport.
A straw poll was conducted in the office – and it was a damning majority verdict on the lack of technical and artistic ability on show from the female version of the beautiful game.
No doubt the wrath of the SFA’s head of girls’ and women’s football Sheila Begbie will be forthcoming with a pile of statistics to spin her sport positively.
Let’s hope her bite isn’t as bad as her bark. After asking Sheila for an audience last week she showed an alarming lack of enthusiasm and referred the request to the Hampden media team.
It’s the second time I’ve been asked to jump through hoops in an attempt to give the women’s game the national coverage of which they claim to be so starved.
Days before just 4058 attended the Euro play-off against Spain – and that game was free entry – a call was placed to speak to Scottish boss Anna Signeul. It was back in October and the call still hasn’t been returned.
Our top side Glasgow City lost 5-0 on Sunday in a Battle of Britain clash with Arsenal.
The girls pay £40 a month for the privilege of playing for the Scottish champions and have made inroads into the Champions League.
But still credibility issues persist, coaches of the ladies’ game just don’t get taken seriously in the mainstream.
City romped to the SWPL title last season by scoring 143 goals and conceding just 10 times. Point taken?
Manager Eddie Wolecki Black has been handed a weekly column in a national newspaper but even he refuses to use that platform to promote women’s football.
Topics on his agenda range from the Barcelona way to his all-time top teams but the women’s game is notable by its absence.
Women’s football is being integrated into the structures of pro and semi-pro men’s clubs, while sportscotland and the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities scheme are being used to increase participation in girls’ football.
Call me a cynic but it’s more PC equality propaganda from people promoting a sport they wouldn’t bother opening the curtains to see.
London 2012 organisers deluded some into believing the Olympics were a British-wide event by allowing Hampden to host a few football matches. America against France apart, the women’s games were wars of spectating attrition.
Why does all of this matter? There are suggestions the female Scotland squad should be granted the same respect as their English counterparts by being paid salaries. In May 2009, the FA announced it was awarding contracts to 17 England players. Each was given an annual salary of £16,000.
It will cost the FA £1.28m over a four-year period. I’m all for equality but not when the funds are diverted from a better cause.
Story: Gordon Parks
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