WITH Scotland gripped by football fever and the men's national team in the midst of its EURO 2020 campaign, it’s easy to forget that the country’s national women’s team is limbering up for the qualifying stages of the 2023 World Cup.

Scotland’s women recently took on Northern Ireland and Wales in advance of the qualifying phase for the tournament, to be held in Australia and New Zealand in two years’ time – and while 2023 might be a wee bit too soon for some of Helensburgh’s budding young female players, there are still plenty of opportunities for them to get involved in the game courtesy of Ardencaple FC and the Caple Girls’ Academy.

Caple chairman Craig Holborn said: “It’s fair to say that we have ‘dabbled’ with girls’ football for well over a decade, but now that we are seeing clear signs of serious interest, possibly fuelled by the success of our professional ladies’ game, we have decided to invest considerable time, effort and resource into developing a proper Girls’ Academy.

“We are absolutely committed to building upon the nucleus of girls that currently feature in our girls’ teams and to significantly expand our member numbers and the age-groups that we operate.”

Caple have been working closely with Active Schools at Live Argyll and plans are underway after the summer holidays to implement extra-curricular football coaching sessions at all interested local primary schools, from the Peninsula all the way round through Rhu and Helensburgh to Cardross.

This will involve Caple coaches visiting each of the primary schools to deliver football coaching to all interested girls after-school on the schools’ premises.

The girls will then be offered an opportunity to display their newly-acquired skills during an inter-schools girls’ tournament – a real festival of football to be facilitated by Caple, again working closely with Active Schools.

Martin Caldwell, Live Argyll’s Active Schools co-ordinator in Helensburgh and Lomond, said: “A major aspect of Active Schools is to create additional physical activity and sport opportunities for our young people – in particular, targeted work to support groups that perhaps have been under-represented in the past or have had barriers to participation is important.

“Active Schools work closely with our local clubs to promote strong and safe school to community club links. When Ardencaple approached us about this exciting project we were delighted to work in partnership with the club and look forward to seeing the opportunities and numbers of girls playing football locally grow.”

If you – or someone you know – can’t wait that long, any girls who would like to start early need not wait until after the school holidays as they are more than welcome to attend Caple’s weekly training sessions for girls.

These take place every Thursday from 6-7pm on the astroturf pitch at Hermitage Academy. Matches are also played on Sundays.

To comply with Covid regulations please call coach Lyle Davidson in the first place to confirm arrangements on 07860 884850.