THE SHETLAND Women’s Football Club is calling an open meeting on Sunday at 8.30pm at Islesburgh to discuss joining the Scottish League and the future of the game in the isles.
Spokeswoman Karen MacKelvie said everyone was welcome and she encouraged as many people as possible to go along and speak their mind.
With a chance to join the Scottish Second Division (North), the island games looming on the horizon and a five-team league underway you would think the future of women’s football was secure, but it has fallen into a bit of a lull in recent months and the club needs to hear the players’ views and discuss the future.
Ms MacKelvie said: “It’s odd that morale should be so low; this year’s five-team league promised to be the most exciting yet, with players moving around and mixing up the odds from last year’s two-horse race, but the running has been pretty heavy so far and enthusiasm for the sport is intermittent.
“The season started with a debate over how best to support Thistle in the league and turned into a general malaise making decisions difficult and cancellations common.
“Maybe there’s nothing to match the excitement of creating a team for the island games in 2005? Or maybe the competition from more established sports is finally getting the better of us? But the opportunities are still there for women’s football, and in some ways they keep getting better.
“The calendar is choc-a-block now. The entry into the Scottish Cup is a regular feature, there’s the annual inter-county fixture, Kemnay Ladies are travelling up to play in July, the league, the cup, the plate, the continued development through Ross County coaching and training opportunities. And then of course there’s the island games to look forward to.
“But possibly the best the chance for women footballers to develop beyond their island potential is through regular contact with the outside world. The inclusion in a Scottish league could be just the thing . . . but do the players want it?”
The coach from Team Strathclyde has been attending meetings on Shetland’s behalf and the Scottish Women’s Football Association have decided to accommodate the possibility of a Shetland team in their North league.
All 10 of the other teams have agreed to travel to Aberdeen for their home games and six might travel up to Shetland for their away fixtures, as long as Shetland commits to play home ties in Aberdeen.
Ms MacKelvie said: “This makes it possible for a team to travel down on Saturday night, play Sunday morning and back up on the boat of a Sunday night. The SWFA has also said it will set no limit on the number of players that can be named in a squad, making it easier to get a team of 12 sent away each week.
“The only major hurdle is the cost. Without any help the cost of sending a team away would be (a Maggie Kay estimate) £1,200 a pop. Should we do it? Please come to the meeting and help us decide.”