Scotland landed back in Edinburgh in the early hours of Saturday morning after their opening match last night in Budapest.
The game was the first fixture in Scotland’s quest to earn a second successive appearance at a Women’s World Cup.
The players met up last Sunday night, where we gathered for only the third time this year, since the disappointing end to Euro qualifying in February, and the further two friendly fixtures in June.
There was some added anticipation and nerves this time around for most of the squad, as the campaign not only starts a new qualification journey for the team, but it is also signals an opportunity under a new coaching team.
As in life, change often comes with uncertainty and vulnerability, and whilst that can bring us out of our comfort zone, it also allows for growth and a renewed promise.
The energy in the first few days at camp has certainly been different; an exciting different. The routine, team meetings, training content, video analysis, all have taken a rejuvenated look. The tone in meetings, the communication between staff and players, and the day-to-day interaction is all new and constantly evolving.
For the players, the feelings so far have been very positive; the enjoyment has been notable both on and off the pitch and the focus is on ensuring we keep moving forward from here.
The first week has flown by, with the days being filled with training and detailed team meetings to maximise our limited time together.
Since returning to Scotland in the early hours, the focus has been catching up on sleep, followed by a late morning team session to boost recovery.
The players were given some down time, which is greatly appreciated to not only allow for physical recuperation but also to help maximise the emotional and mental recovery process following the high-demands of the week so far.
🔥 The skills on show from our skipper in this one…#SWNT
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) September 16, 2021
For most of the group that meant enjoying an afternoon coffee and hopefully enjoying the sunshine around the grounds of Oriam’s Performance Centre at Heriot Watt University, where the team has been based.
That time is valuable but the team has already turned the minds to the next task; Faroe Islands await on Tuesday night at Hampden Park.
Given the changes and subsequent injuries to the squad, the spectacle will be the first outing for a number of the current player group at the National Stadium and will be a landmark moment for the team as Hampden Park will become the official home of the women’s team.
With only two days of preparation ahead of the match, the team knows it needs to continue to maximise our time.
The Faroes are the lowest ranked opponents in the group, and a win at home is an absolute must.
Vital to start in the right manner
This international window returns to being one of the fullest across Europe as qualification begins for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand in two years’ time.
All home nations will be in action across the period, as England and Scotland will hope to start their campaigns well as they look to earn consecutive qualification after the finals in France in 2019.
Northern Ireland and Wales will both be looking to create history by qualifying for the biggest tournament on the international stage for the very first time.
Northern Ireland stunned Wales in Euro qualifying as they finished above them in the group standings to reach next summer’s Euro final tournament.
That will give them some confidence, although both England and Austria sit ahead of them in the rankings and are favourites to finish in the top spots of group D.
Wales began their journey last night as well, as they took on Kazakhstan at home. Tuesday poses another potentially tricky test as they make the trip to Estonia.
There will be 11 teams making it to the World Cup from Europe, with all nine group winners qualifying automatically before the second place teams face a round of further qualifying to decide the two remaining qualification spots.
Chance to build momentum
Aberdeen Women will face Hamilton Accies in one of two matches that will go ahead this weekend in SWPL 1.
The remaining schedule has been postponed with all other fixtures including teams that have players selected for international duty.
It will be an opportunity for Aberdeen to go top of the table if they can capitalise on another win, as they face a side that also earned promotion to the top flight this season.
The SWPL 1 highlights programme, shown on Monday night’s on BBC Scotland, had more viewers compared to last weekend’s Sportscene, with over 60,000 tuning in, which highlights the growing interest in the women’s game.