Stirling University Football Club (SUFC) has been selected for the new Scottish Challenge Cup line-up.
The only University team to be included in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) national cup, the team will take part in the new format which has been expanded for the forthcoming 2016-17 season following approval from Uefa.
Competing alongside teams from Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as Highland League clubs, under 20s teams from each of the 12 Ladbrokes Premiership clubs, and rivals from the Lowland League, SUFC will make a bid for the first ever IRN-BRU Cup.
The team will be led by first team coach Shelley Kerr - the first woman to manage a British senior men's team.
Shelley said: “The challenge of playing higher ranked opposition is a brilliant opportunity for our players to measure and test themselves in a competitive environment.
“We are able to do this occasionally during friendly games against professional teams, but it’s difficult to replicate the intensity of a competitive game. By being involved in the SPFL Challenge Cup we have a unique opportunity to do this.
“Our involvement is testament to the outstanding performance of the team throughout the season and is a great reward for their success in the Scottish Lowland League. The good work of the University of Stirling’s High Performance Football programme is evident within our competitive environment and we are excited about this new challenge.”
Raleigh Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager at the University of Stirling, added: “Football at Stirling has, and continues, to attract hundreds of talented young players to campus. We have 12 former football scholars now playing professional football across the globe and believe the new Challenge Cup format will give our student players added opportunity to improve their skills and progress within the world of professional football.
“Under Shelley Kerr’s stewardship, SUFC continues to go from strength-to-strength and I wish her and the team the best of luck in their Challenge Cup debut. We are delighted to see them compete on the national stage alongside professional squads from Scotland and beyond.”
The majority of Challenge Cup fixtures will take place during international weekends, while BBC ALBA, S4C and Premier Sports will all show live matches.