Scotland’s most capped football internationalist is convinced the senior women’s team is within touching distance of a major championship qualification.
Pauline Hamill amassed 141 caps during her 19 years dedicated service to Scotland, but missed out on the chance to represent her country at either a World Cup or European Championship.
Recently retired from club and international football, Hamill fulfils the role of Scotland U17 and Scottish FA Women’s National Football Academy Coach.
The Academy, created through a partnership between the Scottish FA, the University of Stirling and national sports scholarship programme Winning Students, is based on the University campus and provides a detailed training programme for 14 of the nation’s brightest young prospects.
And she has seen enough promise working daily with the developing talent to see a bright future ahead. “There has been a lot of hard work put in over many years and now we are starting to see the fruits of our labour,” said Hamill, whose own club cv includes stints with Blackburn Rovers Ladies and Celtic Ladies.
“Now the best young players are at the Academy and training like full-time athletes. Now the players understand what it takes to play at the top level.”
Winning Students Lisa Evans, Lauren McMurchie, Emma Mitchell (all University of Stirling) and Eilish McSorley (Forth Valley College) are currently representing Scotland U19 in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Women’s U19 Championship.
At the same time, the A squad played Holland at the weekend and line up against the USA on Wednesday (6 April), with Stirling students Frankie Brown, Christie Murray and Jane Ross, Rachel Corsie (Robert Gordon University) and Hayley Lauder (Heriot-Watt University) amongst the 21-player squad for these two international challenge matches.
They will all be keen to retain their places when the 2013 European Championship qualifying campaign begins later in the year, with Scotland drawn against France, Israel, Republic of Ireland and Wales.
Hamill added: “I think Scotland has done so well over the last few years that we are favourites to finish second and reach the play-offs. It’s not like Scotland not to be the underdogs so it will be interesting to see how the players cope with that.
“It’s a strong group and we recently lost to France so we know nothing is a given. Going away from home in international matches is tough, no matter what team you play and the trip to Israel is something of an unknown for them so qualification is certainly not cut and dried.”
This is one campaign too far for Hamill, who has decided to hang up her boots to focus on her coaching role, but don’t expect her not to kick every ball from the stands. “It was the right time for me to stop playing, but I feel I have contributed to moving the game forward and I am satisfied with what I achieved.
“I really enjoy working with the young players and passing on my experience to them. I’ve always believed that any project takes a long time and if we continue to progress as we are then Scotland has a brilliant chance of making a major final. I can’t wait and I will be definitely be sitting in the stand with my face painted, cheering them on.”
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Photos courtesy of the Scottish FA and Steve Lindridge