“All about the football”: Taking a look at the women’s game in Scotland

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Edinburgh Caledonia celebrate scoring against Bonnyrigg Rose (Credit: SWF)

Women have long toiled to be recognised in the football world, but the tide is finally turning in their favour.

Women’s football has been around longer than you might expect. The first ever male international football match – Scotland versus England – was played in 1872. Only nine years later, the match was replicated, but only this time it was the women’s turn to play.

Between the two world wars, the Football Associations of Scotland and England banned the women’s game. The reasoning behind the ban is supposedly because the sport was considered ‘unfeminine.’ It’s enough to make your blood boil today, but such were the times. The tyrannical ban on the ladies’ sport forced teams underground as they sought out non-Scottish Football Association affiliated pitches to play on.

It wasn’t until between late 60s and early 70s that England and Scotland lifted their bans, reforming the inclusion of women into Football Associations.

Since then, ladies’ football has steadily grown in popularity and has started to gain more recognition in the mainstream media. The FA Women’s Super League (WSL) in England and The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US have garnered a great deal of recognition, attracting substantial financial backing from both advertising and endorsements as well as government funding.

In the WSL, many players are starting to rake in salaries reaching £60,000. The highest earner in women’s soccer, Alex Morgan, who plays for Portland Thorns in the NWSL, earns £1.9 million a year, including sponsorships and endorsements.

These figures are dwarfed, however, by the stratospheric incomes of male footballers even compared to the rates of standard workplace pay gaps, but it is still an enormous step in the right direction.

Scotland is still catching up with the rest of the world in fashioning a professional women’s football.

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(From left to right): Kim Dallas, Alba Losada, Sammy Hyett and Emma O’Sullivan ready for training (Credit: SWF)

Sammy Hyett is the founder, chairman and captain of Edinburgh Caledonia FC, a women’s football team in the South East Second Division of the Scottish Women’s Football League. She started practising when she was just four because there was no space left in gymnastics.

“It all started because there was available space,” Hyett says. “But, it became a bit of a novelty because there weren’t any other girls and when you were young nobody really minded if you were playing with the boys.”

The midfielder turned down a professional football scholarship in the US because she was expected to coach when she just wanted to play.

“I picked Heriot-Watt [University] because of the Hearts academy that’s there, I went along to the fresher’s football day and there were about 100 people there and I was the only girl.

“They obviously didn’t have a women’s football team then so they said I could come along and train, but I could be the best there and they still wouldn’t treat me the same. This was back in 2004, there weren’t options, I wasn’t going to get the same opportunities… so I started my own team.”

Hyett had a series of injuries after university, which stopped her from playing. She decided to build a women’s branch of the all-male Football Club of Edinburgh. Before long she took her team on a new path and formed Edinburgh Caledonia.

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Edinburgh Caledonia FC (Credit: SWF)

Edinburgh Caledonia FC

“The SWFA have always said they want to be defined as the women’s section separate to the men,” Hyett explains.

“They’ve always seen it as a hurdle to cross, that they have to prove themselves to the men and there seems to be this stigma and we felt that about being with the guys’ club, so we left”

She adds: “I would’ve given anything to play professionally and I had the chance, my twin and I were offered to play for Ross County professionally, but we were offered a minimal amount a week to live off and we couldn’t because I had to work. That was the only opportunity in Scotland at the time.”

People like Hyett have laid the foundation for the new generation of talented female footballers to realise their talents and be recognised on the world stage.

Hyett says: “It’s always been about the football, I genuinely don’t know what I would do without a football at my feet.”

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Kim Dallas breezes past Dundee City player (Credit: SWF)

Edinburgh Caledonia has begun their season perfectly, currently sitting top of their division after two games, scoring 22 goals and conceding nil. Hyett and her squad are aiming for promotion to the SWFL 1 where they would be up against the likes of Celtic Academy and Rangers Development.

The Scottish Women’s National Football Team are also on a high. This season, they have been funded by the Scottish government for the first time which means the players have been able to train full-time as they prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.

There, the women’s team of Scotland and England will face each other once again, 138 years after they first met on a pitch, but now in a very different world.

 

Leith Chooses funding allocated

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Leith Chooses funding reduced to £44,000 this year (Credit: Leith Chooses)

 

Leith Chooses has only been able to award a small amount of good causes this year after their government funding was pulled, leaving a pool of just £44,000 be distributed.

Leith is the most densely populated area in Scotland with charities and social enterprises based within the community leading the way in helping the area’s most vulnerable. This year, the focus was on ‘food and equality’, with the introduction of the ‘booster vote’, put in place this year to improve the chances of projects that have been unfortunate in previous years.

One of the Leith charities awarded was Sikh Sanjog who received £3,000. They have been actively involved with Leith Chooses since it begun nine years ago and this was the first time their application has been successful.

Their award will go to a girls group which will be breaking down barriers surrounding cultural issues.

Speaking to EN4News, Sabrina Tickle, Youth Development Manager at Sikh Sonjog, gave her thoughts on the current financial situation.

 

Peter McColl, of Nesta, who attended the event referred in his speech to the Participatory Budgeting ongoing in other European cities. He said: “In 2014, the proposal from the Mayor of Paris through her Participatory Budgeting process, which is called Madam Mayor – I have an idea. The proposal was they would spend half a billion Euros over six years.

“The outcome of that process has been massive engagement. The most popular proposal was to have vertical green walls to clean the air in Paris as there is a problem with pollution. You can use vertical green walls with plants growing out of them to cleanse the air and that is the most popular with 21,000 votes.

“They’re beginning to shift the way in which they make decisions at a local level in communities towards this participatory process and what that’s doing is engaging many many more people in the process. It’s engaging people who perhaps can’t vote because they’re immigrants or too young to have the vote in politics and making political decisions and that’s a really important lesson.”

You can listen to Peter McColl’s opinion on how local communities in Scotland can benefit from participatory budgeting here:

 

 

 

Today’s international news: March 8th

Luka Kenyon brings today’s international stories from across the globe.

 

Today’s national news: March 8th

Luka Kenyon brings today’s top national stories from across the UK.

To check out Ryan Traynor’s article on the Mary Queen of Scots documents click here.

May’s Brexit speech – as it happened

May delivers Brexit speech in Grimsby, a town in which the majority voted leave.

May begins by stating that Brexit “belongs to the whole country.”

The PM states that the Brexit deal will allow us to “build stronger communities” and will mean growth is not focussed in London and the South-East.

May then goes on to talk about foreign affairs and “taking back control”. She insists Brexit would not be a “race to the bottom” in terms of workers right and that Britain after Brexit will still be able to safeguard them.

May then goes on to note how well her government are managing the economy, stating: “the employment rate is at a record high, unemployment rate is at a 40-year low, borrowing this year is at a 17 year low and debt is falling.”

She says that businesses would begin to invest and money spent on a no-deal exit could be put to better use. There would be a giant “open for business sign” in Britain.

May talks about the failure to get her deal through parliament back in January and claims Corbyn “opposed it because he wanted a general election,” meanwhile other MPs opposed it because they didn’t want Brexit to happen altogether.

Speaking to the EU, May says “now is the time for us to act” and calls for “one more push” to get Brexit over the line.

She says that MPs also need to think hard about rejecting the deal and that more talking isn’t going to solve anything. She continued, saying that the EU might start imposing conditions which could result in a form of Brexit that looks different to what people voted for. A second referendum would “take Britain back to square one”, she claims.

May is ramping up the pressure, saying ‘Let’s get it done’.

She needs the support of those who voted remain but accept the result – and those who voted Leave but accept some compromise is necessary.

The Prime Minister now takes questions from journalists.

When asked how much responsibility she takes for the uncertainty, May says she negotiated a deal and MPs were the ones who rejected it. Now is the moment to get this done, she says.

Workers rights and the energy deal will be good for Grimsby (where she is holding the speech), she adds.

She then takes her leave.

 

Reaction

To find out more about this weeks Brexit goings on, click here.

Review: This week in Brexit

David Paul gives us a round-up of a few big Brexit topics this week:

If you would like to see more news surrounding Brexit, visit our Brexit section here.

BREAKING: ‘Strong but unconfirmed reports’ IS bride’s baby has died

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The lawyer for IS bride Shamima Begum has said there is ‘strong but as yet unconfirmed reports’ that her baby son has died. 

The 19-year-old Islamic State bride and her newborn son Jarrah had been living in a Syrian refugee camp after she had her British citizenship revoked.

Begum – who has previously lost two children – revealed last month that her young son was unwell and she would not allow him to return to the UK alone.

Begum’s husband, Dutch IS fighter Yago Riedijk, told Sky News they both made a mistake when they joined the terror group. He married the British teenager just weeks after she arrived in IS territory as a 15-year-old in 2015.

Begum was 15 when she left London to join IS, along with two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green.

She gained media attention whilst heavily pregnant last month, speaking of her desire to return to the UK.

Scottish Government plans to tackle pay gap

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Scottish Government has announced its first Gender Pay Gap Action Plan.

The action plan has been put in place to tackle gender discrimination and inequalities in the workplace. The gender pay gap in Scotland for full-time employees has decreased to 5.7% in 2018, from 6.6% in 2017.

The plan will help the Scottish Government to meet its target of reducing the gender pay gap by 2021. The plan includes over 50 actions, including:

  • Supporting 2,000 women on their return to work after a career break through the new Women Returners Programme, worth £5 million over three years, building on the success of a pilot project run since 2017.
  • Improving workplace practices, including support for women during menopause and for victims of domestic abuse, through the expansion of the Workplace Equality Fund.
  • Refreshing the gender and diversity element of the Scottish Business Pledge.
  • Urging the UK Government to strengthen and enforce the protection of women and carers against discrimination and dismissal – including strengthening paternity leave rights and introducing ‘safe leave’ which would provide victims of domestic violence with additional leave.
  • Promoting gender equality within early learning and child care; schools, colleges, and universities; and within employment support or social security systems.
  • Commissioning a feasibility study for a ‘What Works Centre for Flexible Work’ to design, test and embed new approaches to increasing the availability of flexible working – in particularly for low income parents.
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(Credit: Creative Commons)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the plan today (March 8th) at Business Gateway’s Woman in Business event, to mark International Women’s Day. She said: “The package of measures set out in Scotland’s first Gender Pay Gap Action Plan are a historic landmark in our march to achieving gender equality and closing the gender pay gap.

“While the gender pay gap in Scotland is now the lowest on record and lower than the UK as a whole we still have much progress to make, which requires long term solutions not short term fixes.”

The First Minister  also laid out the specifics of the action plan: “Our plan sets out a whole system approach across public, private and third sectors and looks at breaking down the cause of the gender pay gap throughout a young girl’s life – from challenging gender stereotyping in early years learning and schools to supporting employers to adopt inclusive and flexible workplace practices to help mothers return to work after a career break.

“This plan is not just about supporting girls and women to participate equally in our labour market. It is also about promoting and installing fair work principles and setting out the benefits these can bring to all individuals, employers and the Scottish economy.”

 

Health report deems Queen Elizabeth University hospital unclean

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Queen Elizabeth University hospital (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

An inspection has found that some part of Scotland’s largest hospital are unable to be cleaned due to ongoing repair work.

Earlier this year, the Queen Elizabeth University hospital came under fire after two patients died from infections attributed to pigeon droppings.

The report concluded that 300 repair jobs are still outstanding, with no clear plan of when these will be completed.

The emergency department was found not to be sufficiently cleaned, with evidence of bodily fluids and dust.

The unannounced inspection was carried out on request of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and focused on:

  • Leadership in the prevention and control of infection
  • Infection prevention and control policies procedures and guidance
  • Decontamination

The inspection comes after a number of concerning cases; 23 children contracted bloodstream infections in the cancer wards at the Royal Hospital for Children, which shares the Queen Elizabeth campus, 

However, the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has made reassurances that the infection rates are lower than the Scottish average.

The report serves to aid the Scottish Government’s wider independent review into the Queen Elizabeth.

 

 

Committee approves £128m contracts for trams to Newhaven

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The trams to Newhaven project set for next week’s crucial vote as contractors appointed (Credit: Graham Millar)

Contracts have now been approved by the Finance and Resources Committee for the two contractors for the potential Trams to Newhaven project totalling £128m, should Councillors vote in favour of the scheme next Thursday.

The Committee endorsed awarding a “Swept Path Contract” to Morrison Utility Services Ltd (MUS Ltd) costing £22m and an “Infrastructure and Systems Contract” to Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul Joint Venture (SFNJV) worth £106m. However, this could soar due to the fact that contractors are currently unsure of the actual workload.

Under the Swept Path Contract, the Council is acquiring the services of MUS Ltd to clear all underground obstructions, expected to be around 1200 obstacles. SFNJV will then commence the next stage, which is to carry out the construction work for the tram line.

There were four bids for the Infrastructure and Systems contract during the tender process, however, two withdrew due to “internal governance approval for the responsibilities and liabilities” of the project.

The contracts are subject to the full Council’s final ruling on the Final Business Case next Thursday.

See our infographic video for the key points of the Final Business Case:

(Credit: Jade du Preez)

Both contractors are delighted with the prospective awards. Peter Carolan, Director at MUS Ltd, said:

“Morrison Utility Services are really excited at being approved as the Swept Path contractor and look forward to the opportunity to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV to deliver the Trams to Newhaven project, if it’s given the green light by the Council.”

SFN Project Director, Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, said:

“SFN JV (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) are delighted at the news to be recommended for full award of the Infrastructure and Systems Contract for the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven Extension. 

Our teams have worked meticulously through the tender process set out by the Council and we now look forward to a positive outcome at the business case review by councillors on 14 March.”

Despite the Final Business Case being published, a lot remains in the abstract which has led to uncertainty among those who will be directly affected by the potential construction work.

STEC have also called for the project to be halted until the Lord Hardie Inquiry recommendations have been published, as well as understanding the full impact of the £20m dividend from Lothian Buses which is a crucial part of the financial case for funding for the project.

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