Scotland women’s football goalkeeper Gemma Fay believes that the next few years will see more and more females becoming involved in the business and performance side of the sports industry in this country.
The 33-year-old, who works as a partnership manager for sportscotland and has 180 international caps to her name, is a role model to many young girls. She made her full debut for Scotland aged just 16 back in 1998 and manages to balance the rigours of her football career with working in sport full-time.
Yesterday she was at BT Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby, passing on her expertise and advice to 60 girls from local state schools as part of the UK-wide ‘Inspiring Women in Sport Week’.
In her day job Fay is seeing more and more women take up posts within sporting bodies and she said: “I work with a number of sports, from target shooting to rowing, and across the board there are more women now involved. Obviously some sports, like netball, have more women involved than others, but at board level in sports throughout Scotland discussions are regularly centred around equality and that is a huge driver at the moment.
“People are actively going out there to try and seek qualified, quality females to become involved in their sports and there has definitely been a change in young people coming through who are now more proactive and confident to apply for positions and get involved.”
Along with other key figures from women’s sport in Scotland, such as Scotland women’s football coach Anna Signeul and head of women’s rugby at Scottish Rugby Sheila Begbie, Fay spent time yesterday talking to the girls present about forging a career in a traditionally male dominated industry.
Fay added: “When I was younger I wish I had had the opportunity to meet inspiring women from the world of sport and hear their stories. I have been given so much through sport and I want to show what opportunities are out there for others.
“It is also good for the youngsters to see that we are real people and that we are interested in what they want to do.
“We have to show them that there is not simply one path in life and there are many different avenues they can take to get to where they want to be.”
Having been capped against the Czech Republic in her teens, sport was always going to play a big part in Fay’s life from that moment on. After school she studied for an applied sports science degree and since then she has had various roles within sport including being a football development officer, working for the West Institute of Sport and now her current position with sportscotland.
“I always wanted to be involved in sport and I have made sure that I have done different roles over the years and have always tried to learn from those around me,” she explained. “Now as a partnership manager with Sportscotland I work with various sports governing bodies on where they want to take their sport and what they want to do with it.
“I try and use insight I have learnt over the years as a player and an administrator to make those sports the best that they can be.”
On the pitch, the next challenge for Fay and her Scotland team-mates is the Cyprus Cup, which takes place between 4-11 March. Scotland will face Canada, Italy and the Korea Republic there and are set to jet off next Monday with a number of younger players being given a chance to shine.