SWF hear from Morton in the Community on building resilience into growth of girls’ game
The number of a participants in women’s and girls’ football has trebled at Greenock Morton since the pandemic, and Scottish Women’s Football CEO Aileen Campbell visited the club to hear how the Trust is building resilience for the future, both within the football club and to the wider Inverclyde community.
There were 42 female players at Morton before the pandemic, which has now grown to over 120 with more looking to join, as well as concurrent growth in the boys’ section and hockey teams. At the same time Morton in the Community has developed its work to improve wellbeing and employability in the area. Entry to home games for the women’s first team is by donations to the local foodbank.
Aileen Campbell used the opportunity of the visit to speak to young players at the club, from the first team down to the under-eight age group.
Commenting after the visit, Aileen Campbell said: “As the women’s and girls’ game grows, clubs will have to adopt resilient, long-term strategies so that positive trajectory can continue in a sustainable way and to ensure pathways provide a fulfilling future in the game for all the girls that want to play.
“The close season is a great chance for SWF to get out and see this kind of great leadership that many of our clubs display. The work that Morton in the Community has done in its ten years shows how hard football can work to provide all kinds of opportunities for their community. From going into nurseries to get kids moving to the Team Talk programme which helps people with their mental health, it’s very rewarding to hear about such strong links between football and community, which is what our game is all about.”
Brian McLaughlin, chief executive of Morton in the Community, said: “It was great to have Aileen come and meet our girls. With nearly 500 boys and girls at all levels across our football and hockey pathways, Morton Community Trust recognises the significant footprint we have in the wider Inverclyde community through parents and other family members, and it’s right we use it to benefit that community.
“That’s why our micro Morton programme focuses on getting kids moving, preventing childhood obesity and opening up interest in all sports, not just the ones we run. Our Kick Off project focusses on developing employability skills, actively supporting jobseekers into positive destinations. And as our women and girl’s pathway grows, we are developing new opportunities for recreational football for women and further support for women’s mental health.”
First team manager and head of the girls’ pathway Colin McCeachnie said: “The numbers of girls wanting to play has really increased in the last two years, and at Morton we are determined to strike while the iron is hot in terms of increased interest in the women’s game. That means continuing to grow our whole pathway and make sure girls aren’t left behind, not just concentrating on our first team. Indeed, we relied on our pathway to cover injuries last season, giving some girls valuable experience at a good level.
“Part of that resilience is about listening to players and recognising the young leaders in our first team who are not just role models but also can play an active role in supporting youth players to develop as people. I was chuffed that one of these young leaders, Laura Darroch, was able to join the youngsters in meeting Aileen during her visit.”