21 September 2021
It's one of the most iconic venues in British football. In its long history it's hosted some of the biggest football crowds the world has ever seen. Now Hampden Park begins a fresh chapter as the new home of its national women's team – thanks to a #GetOnside pledge from the Scottish Football Association (SFA).
The SFA's Accelerate Our Game strategy has already helped to inspire further growth in women's football, and the move of the Scotland women's national team (SWNT) to Hampden will stand as a visible symbol of progress as well as an inspiration for future development.
As the team prepared to host Faroe Islands Women for a World Cup 2023 qualifier at their new home, Women in Football asked the SFA's Diversity & Inclusion Manager David McArdle about the pledge.
"Football should be representative and reflective of the demographic of our environments in which we operate," says David. "Being part of this campaign brings added support and focus to ensure that we continue to invest, support and grow this area of our game, breaking down barriers and perceptions to ensure our sport can truly be a game for all in every aspect."
It was a summer job working as a young coach in the USA that first showed David the potential of football to transform lives – and it was this experience, he says, that motivates him to support campaigns like #GetOnside today.
"At the end of a week’s coaching a parent handed me newspaper cuttings and a handwritten letter which explained how her child had went through some hard time, which was explained further in the articles.
"The letter went on to say that during the week of football coaching she began to see her child smile again, have fun and interact with other children like they had before. The letter ended saying 'people are put on this earth for a reason, this is yours'.
"This moment was like a light bulb that went off in my head that the power of football is real and from that day I dedicated my career to use the sport not to produce footballers, but to change people’s lives and make them better people. I still have the letter and the cuttings to this day and regularly look upon this at times when you need the little pick-me-up to continue on the fight."
The SWNT's homecoming to Hampden follows a promising win in Hungary in their opening qualifier, and in the countdown to their kick-off David recollected his first visit to the stadium to watch Scotland's men in action.
"I remember looking at the players dreaming one day that I could play on that pitch. This developed a lifelong passion for football and created so many more dreams. Looking back, I was lucky, because as a male I could see myself through the players, which my sisters wouldn’t have been able to.
"So I’m looking forward to watching the faces of the young girls walking into the stadium for the first time and being amazed by this special atmosphere and place and then having the opportunity to watch the SWNT play and be inspired by Erin Cuthbert, Caroline Weir, Lee Alexander and the other inspirational players and allow for the creation of lifelong dreams."
Women in Football extends warm thanks to the SFA for joining #GetOnside and wishes the SWNT all the very best for World Cup qualifying at their new home – starting right away.
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