Celebrating the Women of the West of Scotland Football League on International Woman’s Day

On International Woman’s Day we salute the women who are involved in the West of Scotland Football League in a variety of different roles. From Chairperson to Volunteer, You help make our clubs what they are and help rid the unfortunate stereotype that football is ‘a man’s game’. Yes, in our league the players are male, but the integral role played by women at our member clubs, on and off the pitch, deserves to be highlighted and celebrated.

Across our 67 member clubs, 80 women have roles (some with more than one) and all of them challenge the stereotypes associated with what has traditionally been a male dominated industry. We’re proud of the contribution women continue to make to the Scottish game and want to celebrate them.

Across the clubs we have 1 female Chairperson, 6 General, Club, or Match Secretaries, 7 Treasurers, 2 Club Covid Officers, 7 Safeguarding Officers, 19 Physiotherapists, Sports Therapists or First Aiders and 41 General Committee Members or Volunteers registered with us. Not to mention the dozens of women who help out in numerous other ways to help clubs across the league flourish.

In Part One, we have spoken to a few of the women who are involved in different roles in a variety of clubs across the WOSFL, as well as a couple of Women who work further up the football pyramid in Scotland, and asked them some questions about their roles in the game and stereotypes they may have faced.

Grace McGibbon – Chairperson – Clydebank FC

Grace McGibbon – Clydebank FC

WOS – What is your role at Clydebank

GMcG – I’m the Chair

WOS – What made you get involved at committee/board level at Clydebank?

GMcG – I was keen to make a difference to my club and to help avoid mistakes made in the past. I felt I had something different to offer and could genuinely make a difference.

WOS – What are the best and worst things about being involved? – 

GMcG – For me the best part is having a positive impact for the club now and for the future, whilst the worst is having constraints that you have no control over that could affect the future of the Club

WOS – Have you noticed any change in attitudes towards Women in Football over the past few years? Is it all positive or any of it negative?

GMcG – We are seeing more women at committee and board level within our level of the game, also there an increasing number of female match officials at the highest level and a number of media pundits are also ex players from the women’s game. Although these are still in the minority the tide is slowly shifting. On the negative side the women’s game is still seen as a bit of a novelty and the pay difference reflects this.

WOS – As Chairwomen do you experience any stereotypes and how do you overcome these?

GMcG – On the odd occasion yes there are still people out there who struggle with women in the “mans” game however I have been elected by our fans to lead our club on my abilities and not my gender and that is more important than the minority who are stuck in the past. The best way to overcome these stereotypes is for the club to be run in a professional manner that is respected by other clubs.

WOS – Whats the best advice you can give to any girls/women looking to get involved with a West of Scotland Football League Club?

GMcG –Go for it, there are more people who are willing to support you than will oppose you. We need diversity and inclusion within the WoSFL and anyone who feels they have something of value to offer their club should be encouraged and respected for doing so no matter their gender.

I would like to add that this is a very progressive move for the league and I’m honoured to be asked for my input but I would hope in the future there is no need to have a day dedicated to Woman as all woman around the world will be recognised for their achievements and treated as equals no matter their role in their own community.

Katie Scott – Muirkirk Juniors

Katie Scott – First Aider/Physiotherapist – Muirkirk Juniors FC

WOS – What is your role at Muirkirk Juniors?

KS – I am the first aider/physiotherapist for Muirkirk Junior FC. My role involves dealing with acute injuries, sports massage, injury prevention and management.

WOS – What made you get involved at Muirkirk?

KS – Since starting my university degree in physiotherapy, I have always had the desire to work within sports and when the opportunity arose to get involved with a semi-professional team, I jumped at the chance. Muirkirk is local to myself and I am a great fan of football and wanted to be more involved in the sport, using my skills and knowledge to enhance the physical demands of the game. 

WOS – What are the best and worst things about being involved? – 

KS – The best part of being involved in football is being a part of a team and being part of that winning feeling. I grew up competing in a lot of individualised sports and had missed that team spirit. The athletes are all so driven and hardworking as well as the coaching staff which is a refreshing environment to be a part of. You are always on your toes and every match brings its new challenges which I love. Recently due to Covid restrictions, the most challenging part has been adapting to the change in different environments with no changing available to set my equipment up in.

WOS – Have you noticed any change in attitudes towards Women in Football over the past few years? Is it all positive or any of it negative? 

KS – I have only been involved in football in the past year and to my surprise there was a lot more woman working within football than I had realised. For example, there is a few women representation in the club committee and often when I go to matches there has been woman working in the opposing team. When starting at the club everyone was very welcoming and I personally have never experienced any negative attitudes of woman working within football. I do feel that opportunities for woman in football are increasing but in general more opportunities for both males and females should be available as I found it extremely difficult to find work within the sport.

WOS – Do you experience any stereotypes in your role and how do you overcome these?

KS – I personally have not experienced any stereotypes in my role working within football as the team I am involved in treat me with respect and as an equal. I will admit though it was quite daunting at first running onto the pitch being the only female present but from my experience, all the players care about is recovering quicker and staying injury free. I love working within football and even though sometimes there can be an obvious gender imbalance it gets easier once you get into the routine and familiars yourself to the general patter of the game. When you know the team and their routines you begin to focus on what you can bring to the team and how you can use your skills to enhance the team’s performance.

WOS – Whats the best advice you can give to any girls/women looking to get involved with a team in the West of Scotland Football League?

KS – If interested in working within football to be proactive and ask around local clubs or friends for opportunities to volunteer or observe. I know from my experience football teams within the West of Scotland Football league are grateful for females to work within the sport and there are great opportunities available as the previous female physiotherapist at Muirkirk went on to work for a bigger team. I would love for more woman/girls to be involved in the sport, but it is a lot to do with contacts and who you know, so it’s worth building a good network. Everyone I have met in the league have been very supportive and friendly so don’t be shy to ask questions as a couple of times I have been low on medical supplies and the other team have offered to help. Lastly make sure you enjoy yourself, as it’s a great sport to be a part of.

Laura McCallum – Head of Football Administration and Legal Affairs – Dundee United FC

Laura McCallum – Dundee United FC

WOS – What is your role at Dundee United?

LMcC – My role at Dundee United is as the Head of Football Administration and Legal Affairs. Basically, I’m the in-house solicitor and have responsibility for all football regulatory matters as well as providing advice in relation to all legal/HR matters affecting the club. I’m essentially an internal advisor to the club staff. 

WOS – What made you get involved in Sports Law and Football?

LMcC – I’ve always had an interest in football growing up. I grew up in a family of largely men so was brought up with football and taken to games as a little girl. When studying towards my law degree, I quickly came across sports related legal/regulatory cases and started to follow those. That’s where it all started for me. I was lucky enough to gain work experience at university with a football club and when working in private practice branched into sport related work. 

WOS – What are the best and worst things about being involved? 

LMcC – The best part of being involved in football, for me, is firstly being involved at the coalface of the business side of football – advising and working on player contracts and transfers – but I also enjoy working on projects that build upon the club’s off the pitch exposure. For instance, I’ve recently become involved in pushing community initiatives. I think that’s pretty unique to football and global brands because of the audience you have. You can take on social topics and really do something with them because of your fan base and appeal. I really enjoy that aspect. I suppose the worst aspect (if you have to pick one) is that working in football is a lifestyle choice. It’s an around the clock job, particularly in my role. Football is very reactive so you’re always on call. I don’t have any home commitments but I can imagine if I had children the time commitment required may make things more difficult. That’s something that the football industry could perhaps work on to offer more flexible working for mothers. Flexible working is something I think we’ll likely see more of across all industries, after the pandemic, given so many of us have been working from home over the last year.

WOS – Have you noticed any change in attitudes towards Women in Football over the past few years? Is it all positive or any of it negative? 

LMcC – Over the last five years, I’ve seen a lot more women become involved in roles across football that were predominantly filled by men. I think because of that the opinions of women in football are becoming increasingly more respected and to see women in leadership roles is now the norm. There’s definitely increasing visibility!

WOS – As Head of Football Admin & Legal Services do you experience any stereotypes and how do you overcome these?

LMcC – I can’t think of any blatant gender stereotyping experienced in my role – I think I’ve been lucky in that regard. As my role encompasses football administration I’m considered a part of the football department. I’m the only full time female member of the department and I can honestly say that I’m not treated any differently than any of the male members of the department – other than there’s maybe a bit more respect because of the legal aspect of my role. You’ll always get the odd person who will talk over you time and time again, or consistently dismiss you or your ideas but thankfully they are few and far between these days. 

WOS – Whats the best advice you can give to any girls/women looking to get involved with Football administration?

LMcC – In terms of advice, I think networking and improving your understanding of the rules and regulations around the game, or your chosen sport, would stand anyone in good steed. The football industry (and the sports industry for that matter) is small. It’s key to get yourself out there through networking and get to know people. Pro-bono work, for instance in relation to boards or committees, can also prove very beneficial even if it’s not in relation to football but another sport. I have served on a couple of sport boards over the last few years (and still do pro Bono work for Scottish Athletics). If you’re interested in a role in football, you may wish to contact your local junior or community football club initially and find out if they need any assistance. It’s a good opportunity to learn more about secretarial duties along with the football regulations. Equally, a similar role in another sport can give you experience and skills transferrable to football.

In Part two of our celebration of the Women in the West of Scotland League we will talk to more of the women involved at our member clubs as well as share some more information about International Womans Day and how you can get involved to show your support for the campaign, not just today but all year round.

#internationalWomansDay #Passion&Pride