A lecturer and her student will line up side-by-side this weekend as Stirling University make further footballing history.
Former Scotland international Shelley Kerr became the first female to manage a senior men’s side in British football when she took over the reins at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence last summer.
Now Sport Lecturer Emma Lyons and her student, Scotland U19 international Goalkeeper Chloe Logan, are part of the newly formed University team making its home debut in the Scottish Women’s Football Premier League.
Stirling is the first student side to compete in the top flight in British senior women’s football, with Celtic Ladies providing the opposition on Sunday in a league which includes leading lights Glasgow City as well as Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts.
The team has been formed through a partnership with Falkirk Ladies, with the brightest and best young players offered support as part of the University’s highly successful International Sports Scholarship Programme. On top of senior fixtures, the team will also compete in British Universities matches whilst a Second Team play student matches and represent Falkirk Ladies in the SWFL Division 2.
Emma, the Team Captain and a former Premier League Player of the Year with Falkirk Ladies, said: “I will be proud to be wearing a Stirling University shirt this season and playing alongside some very talented students. It is also a real honour to be involved in something that we hope, not only marks a key point in both clubs’ development, but also in the history of women’s football in Scotland. We are the new team so first we have to maintain our Premier League place but this club is also ambitious about what we can do in the future.”
Head Coach Thomas Craig said: “To achieve another footballing first is fantastic and highlights how sport is part of the fabric at the University of Stirling. It is an exciting project to be a part of with the chance for our students to test themselves against the best players in Scotland. It will be a tough task for the squad to manage midweek University matches and Premier League games at the weekend, but it’s a task we can’t wait to tackle.”
The University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme enables talented athletes in Football, Golf, Swimming, Tennis and Triathlon to combine high performance sport with study for a degree. Students include World U23 Triathlon Silver medallist Marc Austin and Commonwealth Swimming Champion Ross Murdoch. Alumni include European Tour golfer Richie Ramsay and Scotland international and full-time professional footballer Jane Ross.
Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence First Minister Alex Salmond designated the University of Stirling as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in 2008. Our mission is to deliver the best for Scottish sport through the powerful and inspirational combination of sport and education. We are at the heart of Scottish sport, preparing athletes to perform on the world stage, enabling students to develop their skill sets for excellent careers and producing innovative research to improve the health of the nation. Our sport-centred campus brings together the people shaping Scottish sport, creating a critical mass of sporting expertise and excellence.