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Sport / Manager sought as women footballers to enter next island games

Three of the squad who played for Shetland in the 2005 island games could be in contention for the Orkney event next year

Shetland's Kayla-Marie Pottinger (left) beats an Orkney opponent during the U17’s game in 2022. Photo: Collwyn Goodlad

THE SHETLAND women’s football club is planning to enter the 2025 Island Games in Orkney – but a manager is needed to lead the team.

It will be 20 years since the last time Shetland had women footballers at the event, back when the games were hosted on home soil.

And, two decades later, a few of that squad are potentially in contention for the 2025 games.

One of those is Carrie Stevenson Morrison, who was 21 years old at the 2005 games.

She said it would be a “good achievement” if she made it into the squad for the 2025 event. “I think I’ve still got a lot to bring to the game,” the striker added.

With the Island Games on the horizon, as well as an inter-county match in Orkney in October, the women’s team is looking for a manager. More information can be found here.

The two-year post will begin this summer, and there may be opportunities to participate in Scottish women’s football competitions.

The men’s football team has played more regularly at the Island Games, including here in Jersey in 2015. Photo: BBC Radio Shetland/Jane Moncrieff

Mirroring the rise of the women’s game nationally, the Shetland Girls and Women’s Football Club has only been on the go for six years but has more than 150 people on its books, from ages around eight or nine upwards.

People will have to be age 16 and over to be eligible for the Island Games squad.

Club chairman Michael Duncan said: “We’ve got a really good group of players, and I’m quite optimistic we can put a strong squad away and do well.”

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The expectation is that a manager could bring in their own coaching staff.

At the moment three women are currently training with the club who were part of the 2005 squad.

Carrie Stevenson Morrison said there was a “great atmosphere” when the games were held in Shetland two decades ago.

There were also trips south beforehand to play against other women’s teams.

“It was a really good opportunity to get the Shetland women on the football map, which was a good starting place,” she said.

In a tough group featuring teams like Faroe and Åland, the Blues gained one point at the 2005 games, drawing 2-2 against Guernsey.

Stevenson Morrison added that the women’s game fell away a little after 2005, but believes the new set-up has a strong structure.

“I think it’s definitely the right time to get it going again,” she said. “Orkney is basically across the water.

“If I can get to these games then that would be me, I would hang the boots up [after]. I would still want to train and be involved but maybe not be playing at that kind of level.”

The footballer also highlighted difficulties travelling on and off Shetland – saying she cannot remember a time when a girls or women’s team came north to the isles to play a match.

Meanwhile training sessions for all the age groups are held every Sunday afternoon across the various pitches at the Clickimin in Lerwick, with anyone interested encouraged to try it out.

“We’re recruiting players at all ages – anybody interested in playing football, whether they’re a beginner or former player,” Duncan said.

Under nine is the minimum age group, which is generally eight or nine year olds.

Duncan said there are also quite a few girls who also play in the boys groups. In Shetland, girls can play with boys groups until they are 16.

He added that the long-term aim is getting enough footballers at each age group to start forming leagues and having all-female competitions.

“The numbers are growing,” Duncan said.

“Once these younger players get through to be adults, then the adult numbers will swell, so we should have an adult league I would hope in the next couple of seasons or so.”

It comes at a time when women’s football has never been so prevalent, with much wider TV coverage and teams like England’s Euro 2022-winning “Lionesses” capturing the imagination.

“There’s just more on telly, which boys and lasses are seeing and because there’s more women’s stuff mainstream now, I think that is letting girls see that actually ‘yeah we can play fitba’ – it’s not just a boy’s sport,” Duncan said.

“I think because there’s more lasses playing football in school…I think there’s less of a stigma. If you want to play fitba you play fitba, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

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