The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has made the most of its selection by UEFA to take part in a branding and marketing exercise designed to raise the profile of elite women's leagues across Europe.
Shona Robison, minister for Commonwealth Games and sport, joined players from all 12 Scottish Women's Premier League teams at Hampden Park in Glasgow today to launch the first dedicated website for Scotland's top female league. The site will be complemented by a new branding toolkit allowing clubs to create consistent match programmes, posters and other assets to promote their matches.
As part of its comprehensive women's football development programme (WFDP), UEFA has responded to a number of requests by its member national associations for assistance in marketing the women's game. More specifically it launched an individual assistance scheme to help six associations – Scotland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Russia and Austria – draft a women's football marketing plan.
UEFA asked the associations to focus on their national premier league and build a brand identity – for example, by creating a logo for the competition and through brand activation from perimeter boarding to social media. Clubs have also been encouraged to play an active role in the project. UEFA met earlier this year with SFA chief executive Stewart Regan and head of women's football Sheila Begbie and, buoyed by the governing body's support, Scotland's work has taken impressive shape.
The development of the game in Scotland in recent years, and the performances of the women's national team, were each a key factor in the SFA's involvement in the initiative. "This new Scottish Women's Premier League brand will help bring together all the top clubs and players to promote positive role models and ambassadors for young girls, by raising the profile of women in football and sport in general," said Robison. "The Scottish government will continue to work in partnership to further raise the profile of the women's game, and this new SWPL brand will help us do just that."
The branding launch as part of the UEFA project follows eight years of work by Scotland's leading women's clubs, Scottish women's national coach Anna Signeul, and her colleagues at the SFA and Scottish Women's Football. "The new branding for the Scottish Women's Premier League will help take the hard work of the volunteers and professional staff in the women's game to the next level," said Signeul.
"Over the last few years, we have focused on creating a positive environment to develop players and clubs, for example through the establishment of the Women's National Performance Centre at Stirling University and subsequent regional centres. We have also worked hard to seek investment into the girls' and women's game to support a proactive and strategic approach to promotion, marketing and branding. The appointment of Nicola Campbell as brand manager for women's football has already had a major impact. She works with clubs, who are already focused on promoting their product, to make the elite side more visible."
Maureen McGonigle, Scottish Women's Football executive administrator, said: "This UEFA project, and continued support from the Scottish government and SFA, will ensure that the Scottish Women's Premier League continues to build on the high level of professionalism shown by clubs."
Nicola Campbell will help establish marketing plans that boost long-term objectives to grow the elite women's clubs. This nurturing work is already under way, illustrated by the appointment of six girls' and women's club development officers in November 2011.
Such goals are driven by the SFA women's elite club licence, initiated in 2012 with the backing of a significant UEFA HatTrick contribution over four years. This seeks to lift standards in all aspects of elite women's clubs, including creating pathways into the game and up to the top level; facilities; the education of volunteers working with clubs; promotion and marketing of clubs; engagement with local communities; and development and succession planning.
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