FOOTBALL fans in Fife are being encouraged to show their support for the women’s game by turning out in record numbers to cheer on the national team.
Stark’s Park in Kirkcaldy, home of First Division side Raith Rovers, will become an international arena on Saturday when Scotland Women take on Sweden in a crucial warm-up for upcoming European Championship qualifiers.
It will be the first time the Kingdom has hosted a women’s international, and match organisers have set a target attendance of 2000, which would eclipse the previous record set for a Scotland Women’s fixture – a crowd of 1703 for a match against the Republic of Ireland at Tynecastle last month.
One of the key players in the Scots line-up is 22-year-old centre-forward Jane Ross, who plays for Glasgow City, the top side in the Scottish Women’s Premier League, who reached the last 16 of the Champions League last year.
She has earned 36 caps for Scotland, scoring 12 goals, and is relishing the chance to take on one of the top women’s teams in the world.
She told the Press: “The standard of the women’s game in Scotland is really good – and it’s continually improving.
“We’re starting to close the gap on the leading nations.
“Sweden are one of the top teams in the women’s game so we know Saturday is going to be a tough game.
“They took part in the Women’s World Cup last year and finished third, and they’re ranked fifth in the world, while we’re ranked 21st, so we’ll go into the game as underdogs.
“But we’re all really looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s going to be a great game with some great football and I’d encourage people to come along and watch it.
“I’ve never played at Stark’s Park before so I’m looking forward to it.
“Scoring a goal would be nice, but I’m not really bothered about that as long as Scotland win.”
Jane refused to let the lack of opportunities in her home village of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute prevent her from becoming a top international.
She expalined: “I grew up playing football with the boys in my class, but when I signed for my first team, Paisley Saints, it was a boat trip across to the mainland and then a 45-minute car journey just to get to training and games.
“I’ve got my dad to thank for that! A lot of hard work has gone into get where I am now.”
Scotland will certainly need that kind of commitment against a Sweden team littered with some of the world’s best female footballers.
Four players who played in the recent Women’s Champions League final will be strutting their stuff for the Swedes at Stark’s Park.
Sam Milne, club development officer for the East Region, has been visiting primary schools in the Kirkcaldy area this week to promote the big game.
“Hopefully this game helps put women’s football on the map in Fife,” she said.
“We’re aiming to hit 2000 people, which would be our biggest ever crowd for a women’s international.
“We’ve had lots of help from people in Fife to promote the game, as well as from Raith Rovers themselves, so we’re hopeful that we can hit our target.
“We would encourage anyone who is interested in football to come along for a cheap entertaining family day out.”
Scotland are currently in the middle of a campaign to qualify for Euro 2013, and currently sit in second place in their group as they build for their next qualifying game against Israel at Tynecastle on June 16.
Saturday, May 26 – Scotland Women vs Sweden at Stark’s Park, kick-off 3.00 p.m. Admission: Adults £5, Concessions £2
Star pupils: PUPILS at Kirkcaldy North Primary School will be attending the big match after winning tickets in a competition. The pupils from class P3/P4, with the help of their teacher Mrs Jackie Jervis, produced a video to show their support for the Scotland Women’s team ahead of their international challenge match against Sweden at Stark’s Park this Saturday. The video has become an internet hit after the pupils uploaded it to Youtube. Sam Milne, SFA club development officer for women’s football, along with Liz Anderson, active schools co-ordinator, have been visiting schools across the Kirkcaldy area to promote the upcoming match. They are pictured (centre) with the winning class and their teacher. Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NakXwOwuwZ0.