Updated Tuesday, 11th June 2002
Being top goal scorer for Scotland has some rewards for Julie Fleeting as she heads over the water to the US.
The spectacular show put on by Scotland's when they topped group 5 trying to gain promotion to UEFA's top 16 did not do any harm to the profile of Scottish players in the USA. The women's game is pretty big over there and the USA won the latest Women's World Cup. In fact they women are slightly higher profile than their male counterparts who are hoping to qualify for the 2nd round of the Japan/Korea tournament. One Scot who made the biggest impression, Julie Fleeting, has been given the chance to turn professional - but has to move to America to take up the opportunity. The women's league in the USA is no micky mouse operation but a fully professional league and Fleeting has joined San Diego Spirit which are currently third in the table. Fleeting will link up with a side full of top international players like Chinese international Zhang Ouing, Nigeria's Mercy Akide and US caps Shannon MacMillan and Shauna Rohbock.
Knows how to score
The deal will mean that Fleeting joins the American side for the last three months of the WUSA season. She will hope that this will give her time to impress sufficiently for the Americans to take up the option of another deal for two years. If her international scoring rate is anything to go by (78 goals in 55 international appearances) Fleeting should not have to worry. Fleeting hopes that her big break will help promote the game here in Scotland and encourage the development of a professional league. Fleeting was disappointed that women have to move away to play the game as she said: "Rose Reilly went to Italy some years ago, but the game wasn't growing as fast then as it is now. They are looking to launch a professional league in England, which isn't a million miles away". But Scottish Women's Football Association executive administrator Maureen McGonigle said: "Whilst we congratulate Julie on this great opportunity and wish her all the best, it is sad that players of that high standard have to leave Scotland in order to progress their careers. Scotland's attitude to professional female sport is sadly lacking in commitment. With no regular radio or television coverage, it is extremely difficult to bring money in to the sport."
The success of Fleeting coupled with the number of other players such as Ayr team-mate Denise Brolly and Kilmarnock's Darlene Campbell who will be taking up scholarships in the USA could help raise the profile of the game over here in time. Fleeting went on :"I had been concentrating on training for Scotland and studying at Edinburgh University to be a PE teacher and hadn't thought about playing professionally until the US league got in touch. I am excited at the opportunity to play with and against some of the top players in the world and looking forward to the experience."
Hopes to stay for 2 years
To keep up to date with San Diego Spirit and Julie’s progress the website address is www.sandiegospirit.com. That's one for the favourites Daviebee
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shane Knox (email@example.com)
Al McIntosh (Al@scottishfitba.net)
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