The Scottish FA’s woman in the north-east has arrived in France to follow the national team’s World Cup debut – and she doesn’t want to come home after the group stage.
Jo Murphy, the region’s SFA girls’ and women’s club development officer, is responsible for getting more females playing football.
However, she hopes the exploits of Shelley Kerr’s team over the next few weeks can help her.
Culter’s Jo has travelled to the continent as a fan and will follow the Dark Blues as far as they go in the competition, starting with tomorrow’s pool opener against England in Nice.
She will then go to the Japan game in Rennes, followed by the Argentina match in Paris, to cheer on players who can also be counted as friends.
Jo said: “I’m going as a fan. My boyfriend, Matthew, is from Nice, so we’re staying in an apartment there.
“Then his dad lives in Rennes and mum lives in Paris, so it couldn’t have worked out better for us to be honest.
“Most people will be getting hotels or apartments.”
One win – with Argentina in the firing line – could be enough to seal progress out of the group for Scotland, with four third-place teams making it to the last 16.
However, although she thinks the trophy is beyond Kerr’s squad, Jo is convinced Scotland can beat England tomorrow and further boost interest in the women’s game at home.
She said: “I think we can get out of the group. My money’s on us beating England as well.
“France, England or the USA have got so much depth in their squad that they can change a game.
“That’s the difference between the rest and countries who go all the way.”
Jo has watched female participation double in the region over the last four years, in part due to her efforts boosting girls and women’s provision across the age groups at clubs, as well as making sure there are opportunities at school or at soccer centres.
However, looking back even two years to when the Scots reached their first European Championships, she can’t recall anything like the level of excitement which has surrounded Scotland’s women in the build-up to France.
She said: “A lot of the games this time will be on BBC1, there’s a lot more media coverage, there are more places for girls to get involved in football as every town in the Shire now has a team where girls can go and play football.
“The schools are really invested in it as well and spending the next six weeks on the World Cup – that would never have happened before.
“Then there’s the Panini sticker books that are out as well. They’re great for the little ones to collect like they would for the men’s.
“We had 18,000 at Hampden on a Tuesday night (for the send-off friendly win over Jamaica), lots who were from the north. It just shows the massive interest people are taking in the game.”
Jo was heavily involved in orchestrating visits by local heroes Rachel Corsie and Kim Little before they set off for the tournament. Arsenal midfielder Little returned to Mintlaw to train with around 70 kids from Buchan Girls.
Meanwhile, Evening Express columnist and Scots skipper Corsie was back in Aberdeen, touring schools and attending a football festival at Lawsondale, in Westhill, to see 300 girls from 40 teams.
Jo said: “The kids were delighted. If we’d had that event a couple of years ago before the Euros, I don’t think the kids would have been as excited as they are now.
“They can see them on the TV and they were asking questions about qualifying, the World Cup, what age they started football – just the normal questions.
“Both girls are really relatable to kids here, a lot of whom are from rural areas. They are great role models.”