Shelley Kerr: Scotland qualifying from their World Cup group would be ‘massive’

Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr
Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr is aiming for her side to qualify from their World Cup group

Shelley Kerr has a lot to look forward to in 2019 in what will be a big year for Scottish women’s football.

She leads Scotland into their first ever World Cup in June, then has European Championship qualifiers towards the end of the year.

The Scotland head coach tells BBC Scotland about how she is planning for the World Cup in France, and also her hopes for the domestic game.

World Cup aspirations

Scotland open their campaign against England, before facing Japan then Argentina

I’ve said all along, even before the draw was made, that our target should be to get out the group. That in itself would be a massive achievement and that very much is our over-arching objective for 2019.

But then on the back of that we embark on the European Championship qualifying campaign so that’ll be another target for us – to get off to a good start.

World Cup planning

We’ll obviously be based in Nice for the first game. We’ve done a site visit to the hotel, the training ground and the stadium. And we’ll do similar in Rennes and Paris.

We’ve been looking at the home-based players, putting a programme in place for them to train full-time and that starts this month. The most important part for myself, my assistant Andy Thompson and the goalkeeping coach Steven Banks will be to scout our own players but also our opponents as well.

We’ve a couple of games in La Manga this month – against Iceland and Norway – and then we’re back at the Algarve Cup, having had an invitation for the first time in 16 years. There’ll be two group games and a placing game and it’s going to be tough – some of the best teams in the world go there, it’s a prestigious tournament.

It’s great for our preparation because we need to test ourselves against the best teams and teams that play different styles. We’ve still to finalise our April window and our pre-World Cup camp but, again, we need to carefully pick the right opponent.

Domestic game hopes

Celtic have become the first Scottish club to fund a full-time professional women’s football team. In addition, Rangers have promised to treble their funding of their team, while Aberdeen and Hearts are also investing more in their women’s sides

Celtic going full-time could be the catalyst for us in the domestic game in Scotland. Sometimes you just need one club to take the bull by the horns.

I think Celtic have been a club that has resourced their women’s team really well and you’ve had the recent announcement about Hearts putting more investment into the women’s team. For me, it’s absolutely fantastic.

Does it spur Rangers on to do the same? Does it spur Hibs on to do the same? That would be an ideal scenario for us because as a young girl, you want the same opportunities as a young boy. So if you can see that pathway that leads you into a professional environment, it’s brilliant for Scottish women’s football.

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