After taking on the role of Women’s Football Development Officer, we caught up with Laura McGinn to get her views on the new role, the challenges ahead and the recent Women’s Friendship Tournament partly held on the Rock.
McGinn joined from the Worcestershire Football Association, where she had been working in a similar role – so what bought her over to Gibraltar? “I think the role provides a really exciting challenge, there’s lots of potential for women’s football in Gibraltar so it’s a great project to work on. When I came over to visit I found everyone here really friendly and welcoming so that helped to make it an easy decision.”
The women’s league is currently very small with only three teams (Lincoln, Europa and Lions) taking part next season. We asked McGinn about getting more girls and women involved in the game: “That’s definitely one of the main areas that I’ll be working on. Hopefully if we increase the number of opportunities for girls to play at a younger age they will be more likely to continue to play as they get older and move into adult football. It’s also going to be really important to retain the current players by providing them with support as well.”
The recent Women’s Friendship Tournament saw top teams from Europe and the USA come over to Gibraltar to take part in matches, as well as a number of expert sessions put on for local women’s footballers of all ages – we asked how important it was for Gibraltarian women to have these opportunities to both watch and work with such high-profile teams and players: “I think the tournament has been a fantastic opportunity. A lot of the players we’ve seen will be at the World Cup next year so it’s great for everyone who came along to be able to say that they’ve seen them play. The training sessions have offered the players something a bit different and exciting with Monika Staab from UEFA leading on the sessions and the Everton squad coming down and spending time with the girls.
It’s been great to see how excited all the players were from the younger ones getting high fives and being mascots to the older ones looking the players up on Instagram! It’s also been great to see young boys attending the games and asking for autographs, it just shows that attitudes are changing and that female players are now respected and idolised just like the men.”
Finally, we asked McGinn where she sees Gibraltar’s women’s football in five years time: “I think there will be a lot more opportunities for girls and women of all ages to play football. Hopefully there will be a lot more girls’ football in schools which will provide girls with an introduction to football and inspire them to want to play outside of school as well. In terms of national teams, I’m confident that we will have re-established a senior team and can continue the development of the youth teams as well.”