Date: 23rd July 2021
This Week’s Sting
1. Fiona Fashions the Future
2. Kim and Caroline Shining for Great Britain
3. Numbers That Simply Don’t Add Up
4. Northern Exposures
1. Fiona’s McIntyre’s Christmas List?
This week saw the release of Fiona McIntyre’s 5-year strategic plan for women’s football in Scotland, ‘Accelerate Our Game’, preceded the day before by the announcement of the new head coach of the Scottish women’s national team, Pedro Martinez Losa.
We’ve employed a Losa.
It has taken a long time, that is for sure but he’s here and his Wikipedia page has already been updated.
Ian Maxwell was quoted in an upbeat press release saying ‘In a coaching career spanning more than 20 years Pedro has succeeded in Spain, The USA, England and France and joins the SFA with a set of attributes which will allow Scotland to fulfil their enormous potential’.
We wish him well and hope the tabloids have cause to change his name to Pedro Martinez Winna rather than his mother’s dad’s surname, Losa which although has an unfortunate sounding meaning in English is actually the Spanish for flagstone.
That is a good omen in a building situation.
And Pedro is no stranger to Scottish players having had 5 in his side when he was head at Arsenal a few jobs back.
He’s had a fair few jobs and that could be a good thing or indeed a bad sign.
At the press conference it was also announced among other things that Scotland’s women would in future play their home games at Hampden.
I’m no big fan of our national stadium and don’t see the need to set such a strategy in stone.
Have a read of Fiona’s full report on the link further below.
It is a root and branch wish list and there is much to praise and at face value isn’t much to disagree with.
As usual the devil will be in the detail and the delivery.
The key factor will be money.
I was looking around for reaction to the plan in the press and elsewhere and found some interesting insights from articulate keyboard warriors on the Pie and Bovril site that are worth sharing.
Fans really do see the bigger picture and through the spin and I think these guys are bang on the money on this one.
GordonS said, ‘ Having read and written a lot of strategy documents in my time this is typical-ambitious, interesting, but lacking in detail of how they’re going to achieve their targets. The detail is everything and hopefully we’ll see that developed soon. Fiona McIntyre seems like she has the best interests of the game at heart and knows it top to bottom. We’ll see if she and the SFA can deliver it’.
HibeeJibee added, ’It’s following a modern trend of going very heavy on nebulous targets, with a few fixed aims plus a couple of specific decisions and failing to explain how many of them will be resourced or achieved. I understand the thinking of taking all games to Hampden. It gives the girls a more professional/elite image, treats them like the men and is in the biggest population base. But it runs contrary to some of its other aims like involving the whole country. Over the years games have been moved around and some of the best crowds have been in places like Motherwell, Hearts, Livingston, Falkirk, St Mirren and Hibs. Building an atmosphere will also be difficult when the stadium is just, say 5% full. Also cutting through to OF fans may be difficult as most international games fall on domestic weekends or European midweeks when their clubs tend to have their own games or be playing on tv.’
And for now, our final word will come from ‘MDM’ also on Pie and Bovril.
‘It’s like a kid’s Christmas wish list. But no detail on how you’re going to pay for it. In this case how are you going to achieve it … especially when they (The SFA) have had years to do so many of the aims in the male game: and failed’.
As Liza with an M sang two years before we were the only undefeated nation in the 1974 world cup, ‘Maybe this time’.
Anyway this is worth the read and Fiona I hope they take you seriously and support you in every way.
2. ‘A Privilege and an Honour’
That’s the words of Mintlaw’s very own Kim Little, a proud Scot with 139 caps when she was called up for the GB women’s Olympic football squad a month or so ago.
For her second Games she is joined by Carolyn Weir from Dunfermline who well remembers watching Kim playing for GB at London 2012, never imagining that she would be playing alongside her in 2021.
Both girls started against Chile and played well demonstrating they are more than ‘token’ non-English players along with Wales’ Sophie Ingle who came on as a sub.
The girls next match is against Japan, Saturday 11.30 and is on the Beeb red button and digitally.
It’s well worth watching as are other games too.
Sweden beating USA 3-0 was a cracker.
On Tuesday we play Canada in a competition that has 12 teams in 3 pools of 4 trying to find 8 qualifiers for the knock out quarter finals.
The top 2 qualify automatically and are then joined by the better two of the three third placed teams.
Countries have historically taken this tournament seriously, send their best girls and this year will be no different.
It has come on a long way since debuting in Atlanta as recently as 1996.
Here are the groups and world rankings for the 12 teams battling it out.
Great Britain (6)
New Zealand (22)
Having been sucked-in to Olympic football I spent some time looking at the men’s tournament too.
There is no GB men’s football team.
The reported reason for this is “Logistical complications in organising a squad between differing governing bodies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales”.
I think that means that our football associations don’t trust Fifa and maybe each other too when it comes to national identities.
We haven’t had a men’s Olympic football team playing at the games since Rome in 1960.
This year there are 16 men’s teams in Japan seeking gold.
France, Japan, Mexico and South Africa.
Honduras, New Zealand, Romania and South Korea.
Argentina, Australia, Egypt and Spain.
Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.
As of now the rules are quite different for who can play for Olympic male teams compared to the women’s game.
Not sure why.
Sounds and feels discriminatory.
This year for males all players have to be under 24 except up to 3 wild cards, i.e older.
Brazil actually have veteran Daniel Alves as one of theirs.
Maybe it’s me but men’s Olympic men’s football doesn’t interest or excite as much as the girl’s tournament.
It’s a ‘Who cares?’ competition.
If Lionel Messi had won the 100 metres in 2008 in Beijing we’d all know how he did it and his time.
The fact he and his team won a football gold there is of little interest.
With the World Cup every 4 years and the Euros, Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations men’s football at the Olympics needs a ‘because’ but I doubt it will ever find one because nobody really cares.
And I also believe that as the women’s game grows and grows, the Olympics will become less relevant to them too.
But it has been a huge influence so far in so many nations and will deliver again over the next few weeks.
3. Not Even Alan Turing Could Make Sense of These Numbers ?
Following on from last week’s discussion about crowds coming back.
On Saturday Rangers will be allowed 8,500 to watch them play Brighton while Celtic (who were only allowed 9,000 in their 60,411 capacity ground for Midtjylland on Tuesday) will have 18,500 watching their game with West Ham.
On Sunday, one day later, Rangers will be allowed 12,750 for the game with Real Madrid and next Saturday 17,000 against Livvy .
Celtic have said they will be allowed 24,500 for their next home game.
Ahead of the planned Scotland-wide exit from Covid restrictions on August 10th it seems clubs have been having to liaise individually with the Scottish Government and local Safety Advisory Groups
This is happening ahead of defined rules breaking out sometime.
Hopefully soon because none of this makes any sense.
4. Welcome Back the Can Cans, The Strathy Jags and Others
Forres have won the Highland League twice in 1985-1986 and 2011-2012 so coming 11th equal in season 2020-2021 with Strathspey Thistle was no big deal.
But it was the highest finish for Strathspey Thistle who only joined the league in 2009.
Since then their best previous finish was 14th out of 18 clubs in 2018 -2019 and along the way they have propped up the table twice.
Last year both Forres and the Jags made a positive decision to take a year out, as did several ex junior clubs in the South and West.
Season 2020- 2021 never really happened up north.
It started late, finished early and at most only 3 games were played.
When the league was called 5 clubs, Clach, Nairn, Wick, Fort William and Turra had no points and a negative goal difference so were below Forres and the Strathy Jags in the incomplete table.
Anyway both are now back from their year out and raring to go tomorrow when the Highland League kicks off.
Forres host Wick, The Jags are away to Huntly and Brechin play their first ever Highland League game at home to Turra.
Good luck to all and also other clubs who are returning to the game after a Covid sabbatical.
As always feel free to contact me about anything in Scottish Football.
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