The number of Scots women playing football has soared by 46 per cent in the last four years, at the same time as the country’s female footballers have gone from “strength to strength”.
The Scottish women’s football team qualified for the European Championships for the first time in 2017, with SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon saying it was “no coincidence” the number of females taking up the game has been growing.
She spoke out after figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) showed there has been a 40 per cent increase in women joining basketball, football, hockey, aquatics, rugby and tennis clubs.
This includes an 82 per cent increase in females in basketball clubs, a 65 per cent rise in women in hockey clubs and 35 per cent more females in rugby union clubs. Ms Gougeon said increased funding for the national sports body sportscotland in the 2018-19 budget could lead to even more women taking up such activities.
She stated: “It’s great to see more women in Scotland getting involved in sport, and we can only expect this to increase further with the extra support for sportscotland in the budget and the positive and inspiring influence of our national sports teams on the world stage.
“I doubt it’s a coincidence that the number of women joining football clubs over the last few years has increased at the same as our national women’s football teams are going from strength to strength and appearing at the European Championships earlier this year.
“Role models can help to break down stereotypes and show sports like football are not gender specific but something to be enjoyed by everyone. In the same vein, Olympic athletes like Eilidh Doyle can help to inspire a whole new generation of Scottish athletes.
“While there is still more to do to – I am delighted to see more women getting the opportunity to be part of our rich sporting culture in Scotland.”
However, despite the rise in women playing football, just 8 per cent of people overall are playing the national sport according to official figures.
The Scottish Household Survey showed, when asked what sport people have taken part in over the past four weeks, just one in 12 said football.
The figures have remained broadly static over the past few years, even though general participation in regular physical activity has risen from 73 to 79 per cent since 2007.
The Scottish Conservatives said more had to be done to encourage people to play football and improve access to facilities in leisure centres.