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New Scottish Government funding of £200,000 will help Scotland women's national team players to work less and train more, with the aim of qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals.
This additional investment will allow players to have more recovery time as well as more strength and conditioning sessions, to help enhance performance levels. This improvement in the current training environment for national players will help them to continue progressing on the international stage, with the aim of qualifying in 2015.
Sport Minister Shona Robison announced the additional support ahead of Scotland's qualifier against Northern Ireland at Fir Park. Ms Robison and Louise Martin, Chair of sportsscotland, were joined at Fir Park by Scotland national coach Anna Signeul and two of the players who will benefit from the additional funding, Gemma Fay and Rachel Corsie.
Working alongside the player's employers, this financial support will allow individual squad members to reduce their working week to around 20 hours a week. The majority of national team players currently fit their football commitments around full-time work or study. The funding for individual players, agreed by Scottish FA with sportscotland, will cover the qualifying period for the 2015 World Cup to November 2014.
Ms Robison said: "The Scottish Government is committed to supporting women's football in Scotland and this additional £200,000 investment, targeting individual players, will be used to complement the existing support mechanisms already in place via sportscotland.
"The team is already progressing well within its group for the World Cup in 2015, and this additional support will help further improve the performance of the Scottish women's game.
"Qualifying for the World Cup will not only be a major game-changer for the squad, it will also provide encouragement for all areas of girls' and women's football across Scotland. The 2011 World Cup final was watched by 21 million viewers across the globe, and it will undoubtedly raise the profile of women's football."
Scotland currently sits top of its qualifying group following two impressive victories over Faroe Islands and Bosnia & Herzegovina and with eight matches to go, the team has got off to the best possible start.
Anna Signeul Scotland women's national coach said: "Qualifying for the finals of a major tournament, particularly the World Cup, where only the seven group winners in Europe go through automatically, is a very difficult task. However this additional investment will help to give us the best opportunity.
"We often come up against nations whose players are full-time professionals and this will help us to continue narrowing the gap, and provide benefits across the women's game in Scotland.
"The majority of our players already train 15-20 hours a week and also manage the demands of work or study. This investment will allow them to train more, enjoy more strength and conditioning sessions and, just as importantly, benefit from more recovery time.
"Our thanks also go to the employers of the players who will benefit from this new investment. Their backing over the years has been invaluable, and we would not have been able to create this enhanced environment without their help and support."
Chair of sportscotland Louise Martin said: "To perform at their very best, high performance athletes need appropriate time to focus on their preparation with the minimum of constraints and outside pressures.
"This additional investment will provide more crucial recovery time and strength and conditioning work, which could have a really positive impact on overall performance.
"That is why sportscotland is delighted to have been asked to channel this significant additional investment into women's football in a way that maximises our national team's chances of success on the world stage.
"More time spent with coaches and experts means more time preparing to take on the world - and a greater chance of the whole country being able to cheer on the team in a World Cup Finals."
Scotland captain Gemma Fay is employed as a partnership manager at sportscotland. The Celtic goalkeeper first broke in to the women's A squad in 1998, and is now the most capped Scotland player of all time, with 160 international appearances.
Accountancy graduate Rachel Corsie currently works for Ernst & Young in Glasgow. The Glasgow City captain has more than 50 international caps and captained Scotland at the finals of the UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship in France in 2008.
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