The Scottish FA (SFA) hopes that £1.5m worth of investment in the grassroots game, and the upcoming European Championships can spearhead its pandemic recovery efforts and inspire the younger generation.
A joint-investment effort from the Scottish Government, SFA, UEFA, FIFA and Sport Scotland, entitled ‘Football For All’, is intended to re-engage clubs and their communities following a year that has seen the sport hit hard, particularly locally.
The SFA now hopes the Scotland men’s team qualifying for a first major tournament since 1998 can revive player registration numbers, which fell by 20 per cent in the past year.
“We have got a great opportunity as we move towards the summertime, as restrictions start to ease, we are going to see a lot of clubs now come back, bring back their volunteer workforce and get young people back on the pitch,” SFA chief football officer Andy Gould said.
“We can also use the Euros, the great opportunity of the Euros, to inspire young people to get back on the pitch and play the game.
“We do believe that football is a really important part of Scottish society and I think it can play a big part in its recovery from the pandemic.
“That magic of being part of a European Championships, for the first time in many years, is going to play a big part in it and our role is to try and utilise that, capture the imagination, of young people in particular, and get them back playing the game.”
Describing the pandemic and the drop in participation levels as a “huge challenge”, Gould says the main task for the SFA is to listen to the needs of their local communities and work closely to find solutions that work.
“We obviously hope to recover and re-engage with as many of those players as we possibly can,” Gould said.
“We understand that not just player registration and participation, but also things like facilities and the volunteer workforce have all been challenged.
“Our role is to try and support those clubs, through funds and opportunities like this, for them to reinvest back into the game, to get back over those white lines and to enjoy that magic of the game.”
‘No timescale on Scotland Women’s appointment’
Gould also revealed the SFA has not set a deadline for naming a new Scotland Women’s head coach, and is in no rush to make an appointment.
The post has been vacant since Shelley Kerr stepped down in December, and applications are still being accepted.
“That process is ongoing and that has been ongoing since the end of last year,” Gould added.
“We are delighted that we have Fiona McIntyre now as Head of Girls and Women’s Football, as part of the Scottish FA.
“We are still receiving applications at this point in time, we are starting to look at that list. For us, the most important thing is being able to find the right person for this group of players to enable us to take the team forward.
“We have not set a timescale. We will be at a point slowly, in the not too distant future, where that application process will come to a close and we will move forward with finding the right applicant.”