Founded in 1998, owned by women, and built for women, Glasgow City Football Club has led the way in overcoming the stigma of women and girls playing football. It’s not been an easy road, but their journey is one of determination, sacrifice and above all, success.
In the Beginning
Carol Anne Stewart (Cas) and Laura Montgomery, the club’s co-founders, grew up with the game incorporated in their everyday lives and couldn’t help noticing the resistance they were met with each time they advocated for an all-girls football team throughout their school years. Cas, a surveyor at the time, and Laura having not long graduated from university studying law, decided it was time to confront this issue head on. Frustrated by the poor standard of football pitches, lack of sponsors, and an unappealing league schedule, the need for improvement in women’s football couldn’t be clearer.
Their love for the sport and their dedication to raising the standards led them to creating a professional club holding 16 League championship wins. Glasgow City F.C. was promoted into the top league in its first year after remaining unbeaten in the lower league. Its seventh year marked a milestone when the team won the league, with another 15 wins following that moment. Glasgow City has won the most Premier League titles and the most Scottish Cups in Scotland since 2000.
When Anna Signeul was appointed National Coach of the Scotland women’s team by the Scottish Football Association in 2005, she challenged clubs to provide a better service and to aim higher. Signeul took members from all the top clubs in Glasgow to Sweden on a tour of the highest performing teams and how they operated. On return, the motivation to improve the state of Glasgow clubs had never been stronger.
Glasgow City has been at the forefront of vital change for the sport, pushing standards forward in the game by forcing the industry to be better and support the well-being as well as the professional standard of female players. The club represents a way for women to do what they want to do and be who they want to be, allowing them to achieve the best in their football careers. First-rate coaches and comprehensive training plans are provided to not only the professional players but to the 250 girls in the Academy to assist in their early career development.
Despite the momentous success of the club over a 25-year period, it hasn’t been an easy road. They have faced financial pressure securing sponsors, a lack of born and bred Scottish players with the desire to stay and play in Scotland, a perception that the Scottish league is not at the professional standard needed to appeal to players worldwide, and a severe shortage of adequate stadium facilities. Speaking to Cas about the challenges that remain today, she said: “playing a female sport in a male environment was never going to be easy and it never has been”. She continued “there have always been challenges in the game, and we need more transparency around how women’s games are funded and if there are better ways to spend that money”.
The Drive to Win
When looking at the qualities the first team possess in setting the standard for Glasgow City, look no further than its head coach. Leanne Ross, a Glasgow City legend, has won every league title during her time. Embodying the club’s spirit as well as meeting its standards, Ross sets the tone for players like Hayley Lauder, Lee Gibson, and Joanne Love. Glasgow City players all have one thing in common – their drive. You won’t make it onto the team if you don’t have the drive to win, and the determination and desire to be a better player.
A pivotal moment for the team was when they made it to the quarter finals of the 2015 UEFA Champions League for the first time, going head-to-head with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in front of 15,000 people. Glasgow City isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon with the ambition to continue competing at the highest level in Scotland and challenging for silverware. The club’s mission is to advance its growth and play an instrumental part in producing some of the best players in Scotland with the hope to professionalise how the league operates. No one can deny the football industry has come a long way, but Glasgow City isn’t stopping there. With a goal to own their very own stadium and training facilities, this club will be able to expand to the next level.
Cas’s advice to women and girls with a love for football is simply to play the sport: “If you want to play, go and play. Find a club that suits you and play as much as you can. And always remember to follow your feet”.
Look out for Glasgow City F.C. playing on the 6th of September in the UEFA Champions League.
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