THE Scottish Football Association’s head of women’s football is to switch sports and join Scottish Rugby.
Sheila Begbie, a former Scotland international footballer, will leave the SFA after a 16-year stint to take up her newly-created post of head of women’s rugby in August, it was announced yesterday.
A former PE teacher, Begbie went on to be girls’ and women’s football co-ordinator with the TeamSport Scotland initiative at sportscotland prior to joining the Scottish FA.
As a central defender with Edinburgh Dynamos, she made her international football debut at 15 in the first official Scotland v England women’s game. She went on to win 25 caps and captained the national team.
Involved in establishing the Scottish FA Women’s National Performance Centre at the University of Stirling, she also sits on the steering group established by the Scottish Government to deliver the country’s first National Performance Centre for Sport.
She said: “I think what I’ll bring from football is a blueprint of success because we’ve had lots of successes in the women’s game. I would hope to transfer a lot of skills in terms of the strategic element of the work I’ve done at the Scottish FA, also the network of people I know and the development of partnerships, which are going to be critical in developing women’s and girls’ rugby in Scotland.
“We need to grow the game so we need to get more young girls active and playing rugby.
“One of the things that has really impressed me has been the vision from Scottish Rugby’s chief executive and board in terms of their aspirations for the women’s game. There’s a real desire to support the growth of the game.”
She will report to director of rugby Scott Johnson, who said: “It’s a wonderful appointment. Sheila has had a great career in Scottish women’s football and this shows our intent to make women’s rugby a priority and how important this aspect of the game is to our organisation.”
The SFA has begun the search for a new head of women’s football, advertising the position on its website.
A possible contender could be former Scotland player, Shelley Kerr, who stands down as manager of Arsenal Ladies following Sunday’s Women’s FA Cup final.
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: “Sheila will be a loss to the Scottish FA. Her drive, commitment, expertise and connections across sport and politics have helped the women’s game take huge leaps forward.”
Begbie added: “I am proud that we have significantly increased the number of women and girls playing football and, with the help of an increasing number of clubs and volunteers, there is now a great foundation on which to build the game.”
Her new role fulfils one of the recommended actions within Scottish Rugby’s policy initiatives, The Way Forward: 2016 and Beyond, with growing the women’s game one of five targeted areas for action, and her remit will cover all aspects of the women’s and girls’ game, from grass roots to performance.