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MALKY MACKAY said today that Scotland’s World Cup women can provide inspiration for Alex McLeish’s side as well as aspiring female footballers.
Shelley Kerr’s squad celebrated wildly yesterday afternoon after they clinched their first place at the finals with a 2-1 win in Albania.
Mackay, the Scottish Football Association’s director of football, noted the interest and excitement the historic feat has subsequently elicited as attention turns to the finals in France next summer.
Scotland men’s side have not qualified for the finals of a major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998.
Following the friendly against Belgium at Hampden Park tomorrow night, McLeish’s team begin their Nations League campaign against Albania on Monday night with a view to qualifying for the 2020 European Championship and Mackay believes they can look to their female counterparts for encouragement.
He said: “We spoke this morning in terms of the momentum and euphoria that [qualifying] can bring, that feel-good factor.
“There is a lot of young international players in the men’s A squad who have never seen that before because it was 1998.
“There is something that you can see people grab on to. So, is that something that we can achieve as well?
“There is inspiration for youngsters and inspiration for our boys.
“There is inspiration for young girls as well.
“I am so pleased for Shelley, 21 points is a fabulous achievement.
“There is the ability for the young girls to look at that and say: ‘Where do we go to local teams to play?’ because there is the inspiration. Go and play for your country and end up in the World Cup.”
Mackay insists the work and investment that has been put into the women’s game in Scotland in recent years and which has increased female participation is bearing fruit.
He said: “There are people who work in the women’s game who have been ploughing away for years and gradually getting more and more funding.
“We are hoping to have more commercial aspects on the back of the success and our own investment has grown year upon year.
“There are places available for girls to go and quite easily join a team. It has taken a while but we are getting there now.
“Shelley is a big supporter of that, we are both passionate about it.
“There needs to be a pipeline of talent. It can’t be this group and that’s it.
“This is the start of something we are not going to let go, so the younger ones coming through can see a way to go and play top-level football.”
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