This weekend Scotland’s third and fourth tier in the women’s football pyramid kicks off in what looks likely to prove another competitive season.
The ten-team Championship has been joined by East Fife, who were relegated from the ScottishPower Women’s Premier League at the end of the season, as well as Edinburgh City and Aberdeen club Westdyke, who were promoted from League One.
League One welcomes Queen of the South, Forfar Farmington and Bonnyrigg Rose, who navigated the play-offs to be promoted from the regional Biffa SWFL.
The new teams increase the reach of Scottish Women’s Football’s national leagues, with supporters from Inverness to Dumfries now able to enjoy competitive women’s football.
Dundee club Dryburgh Athletic host Edinburgh City in the opening Championship kick off at noon on Sunday, while East Fife travel to Ayr United, Morton host Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Westdyke visit Edinburgh to face Hutchison Vale and the two clubs involved in the race for a play-off spot last season, Rossvale and Renfrew Ladies, renew their rivalry at Petershill Park in Glasgow.
In League One, Queen of the South visit BSc Glasgow and Bonnyrigg Rose host Forfar Farmington in what will be a rematch of the playoff game which saw Forfar promoted. Elsewhere, Edinburgh Caledonia host a Falkirk side who just missed out on promotion last season, St Mirren travel to Dundee West and Airdrie Ladies host Giffnock SC.
Ahead of the new season,
Rossvale midfielder Lauren McCulloch said: “To get all the way to the play-off then lose it was a tough one to take, but we’ll use it as fuel to go again this year and hopefully go one better.”
Renfrew captain Emma Baird said: “We took it down to the very last game of the season. We need to take that, take the lessons from it. That’s probably two season we’ve came close… We’re a good team, we’ve been together for a long time and that’s probably one of our biggest bonuses is that our core has been the same for years.”
Ayr United captain Jodie Barbour said: “We obviously want to aim as high as we can. Potentially we would like to get promotion.”
Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s top scorer Kayleigh Mackenzie said: “In the three years I’ve been here, I think this is probably our best pre-season. I’m excited for the new season to just finish as high as we can.”
Dryburgh defender Sophie Aitken said: “We want to kind of cement our place in the league. Obviously we finished in the bottom half of the table last season, so I think building on that we’d like to finish higher, and just put on a performance.”
Last season’s Championship top scorer Angyl Learmonth, Hutchison Vale captain, said: “I think it’s going to be difficult, being realistic, but the first few months will be about rebuilding, getting back together and new players into the squad, then hopefully try and climb up the table from there.”
East Fife’s new defender Nicola Caira said: “There’s ambition there. The club’s been successful in the past and there’s no reason why it can’t be again.”
Edinburgh City’s new defender Rossha Muirhead said: “It’s quite a new side, a new coach and new players… Although we’ve come from the league below, we’re still looking to be very high in this league, to be top of the table.”
Westdyke’s Caitlin Watt said: “I think the hope for the team is to perform in that league. It’s a new league and a lot of new teams for us. A new challenge, stepping up that level.”