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

ladies football pic 7

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.

DSC_7252

(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.

lfp 12

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.”

ladies football pic 5

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

cropped-basic-header.jpg

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:

 

 

 

Committee approves £128m contracts for trams to Newhaven

IMG_0306

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.

Today’s local news: March 8th

Daisy Smith brings us today’s local news from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

Inquiry into Glasgow school of art fire should be held, say MSPs

The Glasgow School of Art was destroyed in a 2018 fire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Glasgow School of Art fires should be launched, MSPs have said. 

Holyrood politicians on the Culture Committee made the calls in a highly critical report into the 2018 fire, published today.

The report scrutinised what fire prevention methods were introduced between the first fire in 2014 and the second, which totally destroyed ‘The Mack’ building in central Glasgow, in June 2018.

The report criticises the Glasgow School of Art board and makes a recommendation that the building be placed in the care of a trust in the future.

“The Committee is not convinced that the GSA gave sufficient priority to the safeguarding of the Mackintosh Building” the report concludes.

“The Committee considers it would have been desirable for there to have been more specific expertise at Board level which reflected the importance of the Mack.”

‘The Mack’ before the 2018 fire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Glasgow School of Art building is known as ‘The Mack’ because it was designed by renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It first opened in 1909 and was widely considered a world class example of the Art Nouveau style.

The building stood for over 100 years before being almost totally destroyed in a fire in 2014.

Reconstruction was nearly complete when in June 2018 another fire broke out causing even greater damage than the blaze four years earlier.

The cause of the 2018 fire has not been conclusively proven, as the damage to the building and surrounding Sauchiehall Street was so severe. Much scrutiny has been focussed on the contractors, Kier Construction, although no liability has been established.

Stephen McKenzie, the independent fire, security & resilience advisor to the Holyrood Committee gave evidence to the report, saying:

“I suggest that there is a potential need for a full, detailed forensic investigation of not only the fire ground, but all the project documentation, roles and responsibilities. As in 2014 and 2018, because of the complexity of these hearings, I press upon the committee that there may be a case for a public inquiry”.

The full report can be read on the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee website.

Facial palsy awareness: Freya’s journey to a smile

Freya Beaumont was born without a smile, and now she is helping to shine a light on facial palsy as part of an awareness week.

20-year-old Freya has unilateral congenital facial palsy, which affects the nerves and muscles in the left side of her face.

Her condition meant that she couldn’t smile or close her left eye, and in essence had no movement on the left side of her face at all. When she was younger, she underwent two surgeries in London with the intention of giving her a smile, and it worked.

Now, she, and others who have facial palsy, are raising awareness of the condition, and have launched a petition asking the government to do more to support those affected.

Key messages they are hoping to share are the difficulties people have accessing healthcare, the psychological impacts of the condition and the day-to-day struggles faced.

Over 100,000 people are thought to have facial palsy in the UK. However, there aren’t many nationally funded investigations for treatments or cures, so support is limited. There are over 50 causes of facial palsy, and it can happen to anyone at any time in their life.

Previous campaigns have shared the message that people can be happy without expressing it as a lot of people with the condition are unable to smile.

This week they launched a Twitter campaign called ‘#facemyday‘ for people to share their own experiences.

The condition seriously affected Freya’s confidence and self-esteem when she was growing up, and school was not an easy experience for her. She said:

“It hasn’t always been easy. When I was little I didn’t appreciate that my face was any different from other children’s faces, but when I started school, it soon became more apparent.

“Other children would tease, point, stare and laugh at me. I felt like I didn’t fit in. At secondary school, I was bullied a lot about my appearance and I struggled making friends. I would go home crying.”

Sharing her personal experience to help shine a light on facial palsy is important to Freya, and she wants more to be done in the country:

“I have always wanted to raise awareness of facial palsy because I want to help others who have facial palsy so that they do not feel alone and insecure about themselves.

“I have also just written a petition and letter to my MP to raise more awareness by asking the government to encourage greater awareness of the impact of facial palsy in the UK.”

The campaign hopes to not only raise awareness, but also help people with the condition. Freya’s advice for anyone who is facing similar issues is that they are not alone and being different is a good thing because it makes you unique. Her final message is to not measure beauty by your external appearance because real beauty lies within.

The petition for the government to do more with awareness and support of  facial palsy can be found here.

Plastic road firm opens new factory in Lockerbie

A company that uses plastic waste in road construction has just opened a new factory in Lockerbie; the first of its kind in Scotland.

Plastic recycling firm MacRebur’s new factory takes used plastic waste from landfill and turns it into small pellets which can then be used to create road surfaces; a potential milestone in road production and waste recycling in the UK.

MacReburs roads being laid (Credit: Clay10)

Though the true mix for making these plastic surfaces is a well-hidden secret, the pellets replace a percentage of the bitumen used to bind roads, which helps to form a harder and more durable road surface. This could make the roads up to 40% stronger, and greatly lowers the chance of potholes appearing.

The company has already laid roads all around the world, including several sites in Scotland and England. They also have them located in New Zealand and Australia, with several roads being trialled in Bahrain, the United States and Slovakia.

“This could make the roads up to 40% stronger, and greatly lowers the chance of potholes appearing.”

One of the positives of the plastic roads is that they can be laid anywhere that asphalt is laid, as it uses the same process as regular asphalt.

MacRebur says that each kilometre of road laid uses the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles or 1.8 million one time use plastic bags. 1 tonne of the mix also contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles.

The founders of MacRebur; Toby, Nick and Gordon (Credit: Clay 10)

Analysis

What do these roads do right?

It is clear that this process could potentially revolutionise the way that we deal with our plastic waste, and with the strength of our roads. MacRebur says that the roads “have been extensively tested and monitored for the over the last three years”, which shows that this isn’t some fairytale; they already have the plans in place.

The CEO of the company, Toby McCartney, says he got his idea on a trip to India, where locals collected plastic waste from landfill, placed it into potholes in the road, and used fuel to melt it in place. On his return, and seeing the state of roads in the UK, he decided to take action. If the plan works, the fate of British roads could be altered forever.

The roads have several benefits:

  • The mix strengthens the road, making it last longer and removing those pesky potholes.
  • The material can also be used in other ways, such as pavements.
  • It is cheaper than the conventional bitumen mix.
  • They are better for the environment.
  • They are stronger than regular roads.
  • The maintenance cost of these roads is almost nil.

The location of MacRebur’s factory in Dumfries and Galloway is also important for Scotland, as it can now be the poster boy for the plastic road industry.

MacRebur’s factory is located in Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway (Credit: Clay10)

The Future 

There are some that aren’t quite convinced yet. The main concern with these roads are the long-term implications. With little knowledge about what would happen to them in the long term, at this stage it is hard to say whether they have the lifespan that we are told. Regardless of how much testing you do over three years, you cannot test for weather and car damage over time. The main reason our roads get so damaged is because of over-use and the great British weather.

“The main concern with these roads are the long-term implications. With little knowledge about what would happen to them in the long term, at this stage it is hard to say whether they have the lifespan that we are told.”

Another possible side effect of the roads is the re-use of plastic. There are some that say all we are doing is taking plastic and turning it into another type of plastic, which doesn’t entirely solve the issue of the planet having an influx of plastic in its waters and in a landfill.

Again, India has been trialling plastic roads for many years, and many have been placed around the country. The process is much the same:

(Credit: Interesting Engineering)

In terms of whether it will be coming to Edinburgh, the future hasn’t been decided. Transport and Licencing Media Officer at Edinburgh Council, Rebecca Gordon, said that “Edinburgh isn’t currently trialling this”, but did go on to say that “we are aware that some other local authorities are, and will take note of the outcome of any trials”. She didn’t specify what other councils were carrying out the trials.

MacRebur’s factory has created 12 new jobs, and they are hoping to expand into other area of Europe in the future, a sign that plastic road building is here to stay for the foreseeable.

If you want to hear more about MacRebur’s work, and about the process of plastic road building, we interviewed the company’s Chief Administrative Officer, Nick Burnett.

Have a listen here:

 

 

Newspaper review: March 8th

 

Copy of BREAKING NEWS-4

Daisy Smith and Ross Hempseed take a look at today’s newspaper headlines.

Scotland split between minimum and maximum Council Tax increase

All Scottish Councils have decided on their 2019/20 council tax increase; Edinburgh is one of 13 councils to decide on keeping a 3% increase, while those living in Midlothian will see a 4.79% increase, the largest allowed by the Scottish Government.

The 2017/18 Local Government Finance settlement included an agreement between the Scottish Government and local government for locally determined Council Tax increases to be capped at 3%. However, this has been increased to 4.79% after debate in the Scottish Parliament.

council tax

(Credit: Ryan Traynor, contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown Copyright and database right)

The split between 3% and 4.79% is relatively even. 13 areas have opted for 3% and 12 for 4.79%, with only a handful of councils choosing a rate in between.

Band D – the average housing type in Scotland – in Midlothian will have the highest increase with £60.62, taking residents’ annual bill to £1344.

Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee have all opted to stay at 3%.

Reactions on social media have been mixed with some users saying they felt “betrayed” by the 4.79% maximum. Others thought that local government needed more funding, and were happy to pay more tax. More efficient spending was a concern shared by both sides.

As well as the ability to decide their council tax rates, local authorities will be able to charge a transient visitor levy and workplace parking charge.

So long, Meadowbank

Meadowbank Stadium is home to many sporting moments etched forever in the minds of both athletes and spectators – including the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Understandably, there was a mixed reaction when the stadium closed its doors for the final time in 2017.

Some were happy to see the old, worn-down place go. After all, it’s set to be replaced by an all-new sporting facility in 2020. Others were left feeling dejected, nostalgically looking back at countless matches, competitions and general feel-good moments that took place in one of the city’s great sporting grounds.

2019 has seen demolition of the old stadium recently completed, as building work for the £45 million replacement is imminent. But there is one more thing that has been lost with the old place, one relic of Edinburgh’s artistic flair that hasn’t been at the forefront of the closure as much as its sporting accolades: the music.

Used as an occasional replacement for the nearby Usher Hall, Meadowbank was temporary home to a surprisingly elite list of musicians and groups known the world over. Scotland’s own Simple Minds headlined the 25,000 capacity space back in 1989, when the band were arguably at their peak, the same year they achieved their only UK number one “Belfast Child”.

Among a string of names to drop by the venue in the 90s was the legendary singer/enigma Prince, bringing his infectious grooves to the city in 1993. To think of Prince strutting his stuff just a stone’s throw from Easter Road today seems like a far-fetched fable, but strut he did. The gig was even presented in conjunction with Forth One. Prince on Forth One…wild.

The 2000s saw Meadowbank host the short-lived but critically-acclaimed T on the Fringe Festival, in which major acts would descend upon the sporting venue to perform as part of that year’s Fringe Festival. An impressive array of artists would grace the stage during those few years, including Muse, Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.

11143173_10153974621498146_5699359805251581738_o

Idlewild, including Rod Jones (far right). (Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic)

Edinburgh’s own Idlewild opened for grunge pioneers Pixies at the old sports ground in 2005, sharing the bill with fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub. Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones reminisces about a magical moment, in which he got to share the stage with his heroes in his hometown:

“For us it was a really special moment, playing between two of our favourite bands in our hometown,” he muses. “I’ve always been a huge fan of both Pixies and Teenage Fanclub, and remember feeling fairly surreal – but excited – looking over to the side of the stage and seeing Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Frank Black (The Pixies) watching us.

“I remember it being a pretty special night,” Rod continues, before mentioning another great bonus to playing a show in his hometown: “Always nice to be able to walk home from a gig!”

In recent years, the grounds have been used less and less frequently, with a 2016 Elton John concert marking the last time music would emanate from that breezy sports track. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Meadowbank will hold a place in the hearts of many music fans who got to experience their favourite tune, their icon, or their bucket list band there.

Read more EN4 News coverage of Meadowbank here.

%d bloggers like this: