The University of Stirling’s high performance men’s football coach, Shelley Kerr, will step down from her role at the end of the season after being appointed the new Scotland Women's National Coach.
The first ever female head coach in senior British football, Kerr will leave the University after three years in charge, during which time she helped the men’s 1st XI reach a British Universities Championship Final, as well as achieve consistent top five finishes in the Scottish Lowland Football League.
Along with team accolades, numerous Stirling players have gone on to gain international student honours under the stewardship of Kerr, who herself played 59 times for her country over a 20 year career.
While on-pitch results were always a priority, Kerr will also leave a lasting off-field legacy at Stirling having established an under 20s programme which has created a wider, higher quality player base to support the senior squad and further the development opportunities for young student footballers coming into the University.
As well as nurturing some of the UK’s leading footballing students, Kerr also embraced the academic life, completing a part-time MSc in Sports Management which culminated in a dissertation examining the process of appointing a professional football manager. This level of commitment and crossover of qualifications ultimately allowed her to impress the SFA selection panel and secure the highly sought-after national position.
Speaking of her time at the University, Shelley said: “Whilst I’m looking forward to my new role with the SFA, I’m extremely grateful to the University of Stirling for the opportunity to work in a fantastic setting with a group of hard-working, dedicated and talented footballers. I have taken great pride and enjoyment from the last 3 years, having watched the players grow, develop and mature into well-rounded individuals which, for me, is just as pleasing as winning any cup or trophy.
“The University has been instrumental in my development, both professionally and personally, and I’m particularly thankful for the support which allowed me to combine my coaching commitments with studying and graduate with an MSc in Sport Management. I have no doubt the academic education I received will be of great benefit in my new role as well as in the future and beyond.
“It’s been a really refreshing environment to work in and being surrounded by other high performance sports has given me an insight into the preparation of different athletes who are right at the top of European and international competition.
“Working with the variety of colleagues, high performance coaches and players has also made my time at Scotland’s University of Sporting Excellence one of my most enjoyable professional experiences and special thanks must go to Performance Manager, Raleigh Gowrie. Not only did he put his trust in me to progress the scholarship football programme, he gave me an invaluable opportunity to grow and excel as a person. His willingness to support, guide, mentor and challenge me has given me an excellent platform to thrive in any environment as I move forward in my career.”
Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling added: “During Shelley’s tenure, the University of Stirling has established its position at the top of British university football and the Scottish non-league game.
“Football is a core sport in our leading International Sports Scholarship Programme, which enables student athletes to combine their academic and sporting ambitions, and Shelley will leave it in a strong position for her successor to take forward.
“While we are obviously disappointed to be losing Shelley, we are immensely proud of what she has achieved at the University and wish her all the best in her new role.”
Performance Manager, Raleigh Gowrie, added: “Shelley has been an excellent ambassador for the University throughout her time with us and her creative thinking and commitment have been tremendous assets to both the football and wider sports scholarship programmes.
“The national role is just reward for all her hard work over the years, both on the football pitch and in the library, and her appointment demonstrates the high regard in which she is held as a coach and person within Scottish football.
“Despite Shelley’s departure, we remain committed to offering football scholarships at the University and providing high standard training and competition. We will commence our search for a successor in due course but will take this time to review our overall strategy and ensure any appointment is made in line with our long-term ambitions.”