Scotland Have Their Work Cut Out

27 May 2012 10:49
Scottish fans are impaitent for something to celebrate but changes take time and effort from everybody.

Scotland's women may have lost 4-1 to Sweden yesterday but that was to a team that is fifth in the world. Scottish football took another kick when the male 'A' team lost 5-1 to the USA who are 29th in the world in the early hours of Sunday morning. Both sides of the national set up need to improve and plans have to be made. This means rtaking the occassional beating but learning from the experience. Seeing how other coaches operate is also part of the learning curve for our coaches.

Anna Signeul chats with Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby (c) Ger Harley | SportPIx 

Anna Signeul has been in charge of the women's national side since 2005 but she has also been involved in changing the way the domestic game is managed and progresses. This is an additional burden that Craig Levein does not have to get involved in on the male side of the game. Signeul is a realist and knew the scale of the challenge when she was approached to take on the job.  Seven years in a post can be a key date for itchy feet and opportunities can come around that interest a coach of the standing Signeul holds. She was giving nothing away but did have ideas and targets for the national side they indicated that she was still up for the challenge in Scotland. I asked if Signeul if she could look into the future to see what it holds for Scotland after the achievements of the last seven years under her guidance. She said: "When you work in women's football it is hard work. Being a national coach in a country like Scotland and comparing it to playing Sweden and you take Thomas (Dennerby coach of the Swedish national side) job and my job they are completely different job descriptions. If you are a national coach in a top country or say the top 14-15 teams then you are just a national coach for the women. You are not involved in anything else, not the leagues, youth national teams; you are obviously interested in it and will watch it but you are not drawn into arranging all aspects of the game. Thomas is like a traditional coach of a national side in the male game; looking after the national side only. In a couple of years, we will have a situation where the role in Scotland will be split; we will have a coach focusing solely on the 'A' squad and a performance coach on the women's side. They will be taking care of all the performance programmes on the women's side of things. Actually what I am responsible for at the moment is the issues dealt with by (SFA Performance Director) Mark Wotte's for the man's game along with 'A' squad. We are getting more resources into the game and such a (Performance Director) role will be developed for the women's game." Of course, elite players do not just arrived fully formed and ready to play for the national side. There is much good work done in the clubs ate lower levels to encourage girls and women to play football and progress to the top. Signeul had to wake some people up to this fact when she arrived seven years ago. There have been changes with clubs seeing the benefits of increasing the number of training sessions and opportunities for your players to get involved. Signeul outlined how her role has been defined by the structure she inherited and her ambition to bring Scotland up to real international recognition as a team of some standing.  She said: "In terms of how we work, Sheila (Begbie head of girls and women's football at the SFA) have worked closely together; she is responsible for grassroots and I am responsible for the elite players, on the long term goal and how we can approach that. It is hard to separate our work; sometimes when we are working with clubs as many of the elite clubs are also bringing young players into their youth teams. The clubs are looking at all levels of developing their club and we have to work closely together to ensure there is continuity for players who could reach the elite level. The game is developing more and more and we are getting more resources; we are changing the structure of the competitions and attitudes within the game. A game that is developing so quickly as in Scotland changes all the time. What was good enough for today, will not always be good enough for tomorrow. We have to re-evaluate our plans all the time. We have not reached a stage where anything is completed and we can focus on another area. We have to keep our eyes on all aspects of the game so that we can be ready for the future. There is always something interesting coming along or thinking about how we can move to the next level. I can just see there is always more to do, even if we get more people in, as the game is getting bigger and bigger. Even though we have come a long way and achieved a lot, there is still a lot to do and achieve. There are still things I wanted to do when I arrived in 2005 that I have not been able to achieve. There are so many elements to the game to get involved in. It is not always about resources of money, we also need people so we can make best use of their skills in the right areas."