Scotland women play their second World Cup qualifying game against the Faroe Islands at Hampden tonight.
The Scotland Football Association announced that all of Scotland’s home qualifying fixtures would be played at Hampden throughout the campaign.
The decision was made as part of the SFA and UEFA’s ‘Accelerate our game’ initiative which hopes to grow the women’s game in Scotland between 2021 and 2025.
Scotland women will be hoping to beat the Faroe Islands comfortably, but the game feels like it is more than about getting a good result.
Tonight’s match is a pivotal moment in women’s football in Scotland as thousands of people will go to Hampden to cheer on a side that previously played their competitive fixtures at Easter Road.
The women’s side have played at Hampden before and last played there in 2019 in front of a record breaking 18,555 fans against Jamaica.
Tonight feels bigger than that. It is more of an occasion, the stakes are even higher. Not only because of the need to qualify, but because of the growth in women’s football since that 3-2 victory at Hampden.
A new home at @HampdenPark.
Join us tomorrow night we move on to game two of our @FIFAWWC qualification campaign, as we face the Faroe Islands.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) September 20, 2021
The national side has since played on the international stage at their first ever World Cup. Yes, it was maybe a disappointing tournament in that we should have progressed further, but even being there was something to cheer about.
We are a nation that only has three full time squads in the highest tier of football, but even that is an improvement from only a few years ago.
We are a country that does not pay their international players equally despite the women’s squad achieving more in the way of major tournaments than the men’s side in recent years.
You have to see it, to be it
Exposure isn’t just critical for fans and inspiring the next generation of players.
Tonight’s game will put Scotland women into the spotlight for all the right reasons. The game will also be shown live on BBC Alba which will create even more exposure for the women’s game.
There is still so much more to be done for the women’s game in Scotland, but tonight will be a reminder to governing bodies that women’s football deserves funding.
It doesn’t just deserve funding, it needs it.
The Accelerate Our Game initiative is great, but we need to see the practical action sooner rather than later.
If we want to make qualifying for World Cups and European championships the norm, then we need funding.
When fans flow into Hampden it will prove to the SFA and SWF that women’s football in Scotland is growing at a rapid pace and we need the support to match that.
Not just the national team, the SWPL1, SWPL2 and the SWF leagues all have the potential to get better, but that is only possible with support and funding.
If Scotland can improve the grassroots structure of women’s football, then that would undoubtedly benefit the entire set-up right through from club level to international.
Having played football since I was young I have had to put up with ignorant comments about the standard of women’s football.
People often try to invalidate the women’s game by telling me that it’s not worth watching.
I think the fans at Hampden tonight will beg to differ.
So will the thousands of people that tune in to the SWPL highlight show on Monday nights.
Hibernian have just announced that their fixture against Hearts will be played at Easter Road for the first time.
The match is looking to be another record breaking occasion as over 2,000 people have already claimed their tickets for the fixture that was only announced yesterday.
But, the tickets are free. It is great that the derby will be played in front of a strong crowd, but the fact the tickets are free highlights that more needs to be done.
Imagine how much 2,000 paid tickets could benefit clubs in SWPL1.
More and more people are watching women’s football either on TV or in the stadiums, but this is the only the beginning.
I don’t want to have to keep proving that the sport I have dedicated my life to is worth BBC Alba’s evening slot, but progress is being made.
Whatever the result at Hampden tonight, it is a big win for women’s football in Scotland.
A win that we must build on.