Formartine United Girls players have spoken of their experiences playing for a growing north club in celebration of Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week.
The Pitmedden side shared a video where young footballers talk about their love of football.
While many of the girls note how the game keeps them fit and improves their skills, responses like “it makes me happy” and “it makes my nerves go away” were the standout replies.
Mike Paterson, Formatine United Girls secretary and under-13s coach, is proud to be part of a club who look after their young players’ wellbeing, as well as their football skills.
He said: “Our ethos is inclusive, not exclusive. It doesn’t matter your ability, we are here to support and encourage the players no matter what.
“Seeing the girls with a smile on their face is what it is all about. Of course, we want to help them get better at football, but it’s about creating the opportunity for them to do something they enjoy.
“We have a couple of girls that come along and have anxieties, but our coaches are great because they understand and are aware of how to help.
“We make sure that all the girls get the same opportunities as each other in a fun and safe environment.”
Attention on women’s game encouraging girls to get involved
The growth of a club like Formartine signifies the progression of the women’s game in Scotland.
Never has women’s football been in the public eye as much as it is now, which will no doubt inspire the future generation of Scotland stars.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) October 26, 2021
Paterson has already seen the effects of such exposure among the players at Formartine, as he explained: “Our girls aren’t just saying they want to be the next Messi or Ronaldo, they want to be the next Rachel Corsie or Kim Little.
“We did an exercise asking the girls their favourite player and it was a 50/50 split between women and men players.
“Our girls can name-drop lots of different female players, which probably wasn’t the case only a couple of years ago.
“There’s so much exposure for women’s football now with the national team and the SWPL being televised, which can only help clubs like us.
“The women’s game is growing in Scotland and the support that we continue to receive from SWF (Scottish Women’s Football) is a big, big help.”
A club making progress
Formartine United academy’s girls section was founded in 2017 by Robin and Jill Watt and Jim Beaton as they sought to create an opportunity for more girls to play locally.
Like so many girls who want to play football, Robin and Jill’s six-year-old daughter was playing in a boys team.
However, her experience playing in the boys team led to the Watts taking matters into their own hands.
Robin explained: “She did well, but was a talent that wasn’t really recognised and wasn’t getting as much game time as she should have been.
“We were starting to get frustrated with the idea that football is just for boys and we recognised the girls game was getting bigger.
“Me and my wife, Jill, started to communicate with Formartine’s chairman and Jo Murphy (SFA’s girls and women’s club development officer in the north region) and from there we started to create the girl’s section.”
In 2020, the Watts handed the reins to Paterson and Brian Davidson, as their daughter left Formartine Girls to join another football academy.
The club has continued to grow exponentially under Patterson and Davidson’s stewardship and now boasts 73 players with a pathway starting at under-7s up to under-13s.
Paterson believes the club has created a solid foundation to keep creating more opportunities for players, but admits more work needs to be done to ensure their is a pathway for older girls.
He said: “We’ve grown a lot this year, starting with about 25 girls to now having 73.
“There’s a really good foundation for the development of each age group and the future looks really healthy. We have a lot of young players in the under-7s and under 9s.
“I would hate to lose any of the older girls as they age up, because there might not a team for them. It’s about continually recruiting and doing as much as we can to make sure there is an opportunity for everyone.
“We’re going to have a team that will play at under-14s for two years, so we have that time to recruit more girls – so we will see where we are at in 2023.”
“Having our own women’s team would be the hope and it’s definitely something we would see as our long-term strategy.
“I certainly think that with the numbers we’ve been getting recently and the increased interest in women’s football, the signs are all very promising.”
Formartine United Girls are currently looking for girls born in 2008 and 2009 to join their current U13s squad and future U14s squad. If interested, please email Mike at email@example.com