Scottish Women's Football rejecting alcohol sponsorship is worth celebrating

When Scottish Women's Football chose to reject alcohol sponsorship, SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) Director Eric Carlin supported their stance.

Scottish Women's Football turned heads when it announced it was taking a stand against alcohol sponsorship in October 2018.

Top flight Scottish football has had a longstanding relationship with alcohol branding on shirts and in grounds around the country, but with the vast majority of SWF players being under the age of 18, organisation chair Vivienne MacLaren made a play for "positive" sponsors to keep the sport "clean".

In February the following year, ahead of presenting to the Cross-Party Group on Improving Scotland’s Health at Holyrood on the realities of rejecting alcohol sponsorship and its impact on the grassroots game in Scotland, she said: "Scottish Women’s Football is clear that accepting alcohol and gambling sponsorship would be incompatible with our role in promoting healthy lifestyles amongst girls and women and supporting them to make positive choices.

SHAAP sponsor U-15 and U-19 National Performance Leagues

"We believe positioning ourselves as a ‘clean’ sport is both beneficial to those who participate in and follow women’s football but also to the long-term growth and sustainability of our organisation."

Watching on was Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) Director Eric Carlin, who soon after formed a partnership with Scottish Women's Football to sponsor the National Performance League.

In return, SHAAP was able to begin gaining better insight into young people's attitudes towards alcohol.

A year after SHAAP was announced as the NPL sponsor, Eric Carlin says the partnership is still going strong.

Scottish Women's Football rejected alcohol sponsorship in 2018.

He says: "It's a great opportunity to celebrate young women being competitive in sport and also to recognise the strong position Scottish Women's Football has taken in saying that they would never accept sponsorship from alcohol sponsors."

"One of the fantastic things about this project," says Eric, "is that I get to meet some fantastic young people and hear from them about how sport makes a difference to their lives and how by playing sport they don't get involved in other behaviours such as drinking or taking drugs.

"They're competitive, they're skilled and they're dedicated to improving their play so that they can compete up there at the top."

SHAAP sponsors both the Under-15 and Under-19 National Performance Leagues.

In the video above, hear from SHAAP Director Eric Carlin along with input from Iris and Eilidh - two of Hearts' U-19 players - on SHAAP's partnership and the women's game in Scotland.