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Scotland is renowned across the globe for its rich culture and heritage, and its contribution to the world past and present. From its thriving contemporary arts and music scene to its achievements in industry, medicine, science, law and literature, Scotland's story is one of immense achievement
Scottish women get a kick out of football
Since the late eighteenth century women have been taking to the field and playing football with as much passion and dedication as men. Although they've had to struggle against prejudice and feelings that they were corrupting a masculine game their love of football has lasted.
Today they are achieving more than ever with official recognition of their talents.
This summer the Scottish Football Association (SFA) awarded 90,000 from the scotland lottery fund for the womens national squad programme as they faced a year of high profile international competition.
The squad, which has risen to 17th in Europe and 29th in the World are currently playing in the 5th FIFA Womens World Cup qualification matches in a group with Russia, Switzerland, Republic of Ireland and World and European Champions Germany.
Heading the team is Anna Signeul, the National Coach who has brought a wealth of experience in international football and coaching experience to the Scottish side.
As someone who is well known and highly regarded in FIFA circles, Anna is an inspirational figure for the womens squad. She has played for over 20 years in Swedens premier division for teams such as IK Brage, Stomsbro IF and Tyreso FF. Since 1996 she has acted as head coach of the Swedish Youth Programme, and in 1999 won the coveted UEFA Under-18 Championship as coach.
Young football talent
It is not only the national squad which is capturing the headlines this year. The younger squads are also contributing to the success of womens football in Scotland. This summer, Scotlands Under-19 squad topped its qualification group, defeating Portugal, Israel and Belgium to reach the UEFA U19 European Championships for the first time. Unfortunately they were defeated in the final.
However the experience of competing against the best of Europe's young football talent will mark a proud moment in the Under-19s football careers. Many members of the team who took part in the finals campaign are now part of the A Squad making room for more talented young players to join Scotlands Under-19s.
In September this year the new seasons Under 19s have again got through to the second qualification round of the UEFA Womens Under-19 Championship which will be played in April 2006 in Slovenia. If they get through they will make the finals in July 2006 for the second time.
The Under-15 side is also having its share of the limelight. The squad has been selected to play in an international tournament in Germany in 2006. Gaining this level of experience in international competition means these girls will have a real head start in becoming the A Squad stars of tomorrow and raising the profile of Scottish womens football the world over.
A role model
One of todays A Squad stars, Julie Fleeting, is a footballer that young girls aspire to. She is Scotlands top goal scorer with 92 goals and also the first Scottish player to make the step up to playing in the WUSA league in the USA. She has been part of the National side since age 15 and has 83 international caps and she is still only 25 years old.
Julie returned from two very successful seasons with San Diego Spirit where she was voted 'Most Valuable Player' by her teammates and coaches, and won her clubs 'Golden Boot' accolade.
Julie is a regular goal scorer with Arsenal in the English Premier League, helping them get to the semi-finals of the 4th UEFA Women's Cup. In 2004/2005 she was voted 'Player's Player of the Year' at the 7th Annual FA Women's Football Awards in June 2005.
She also managed to score a hat-trick to secure a FA Cup final win for Arsenal last season, the day after playing in an International match against Germany. Julie is a qualified teacher and also captains her country.
Things have never looked better
With so much high profile activity things have never looked better for girls looking to take their football skills to the next level and play for their country on the international stage. Today, there are over 900 registered players, 28 senior clubs and 16 under-sixteen sides playing in the National Leagues in Scotland.
To find out more about womens football in Scotland go to: and click on the Be a Player Get involved caption. This will direct you to the Scottish Regional Girls & Women Development Officers details.