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Mo gets her kicks running the show.

Maureen McGonigle spent the weekend at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall organising an international five-a-side women's football tournament.

This week, her phone at No4, Park Gardens - next door to the SFA - will be red-hot as the lady who carries the lamp for the women's game in Scotland ensures the smooth running of Saturday's Scottish Cup final.

"It's a bit of a one-man band here, but I still love it," sighed Maureen, as in the background another phone started ringing.

"We do have a problem at the SWFA and that's in awareness of the game in Scotland. We have to do everything for ourselves, or else we probably wouldn't exist."

There are around 3000 registered female players in Scot-land, with the greatest growth area in the Highlands, where a recent coaching academy attracted 104 schoolgirls.

Maureen admitted: "We can get youngsters around 10 and 11 interested, but the problem is when they reach mid-teens.

"Most drift away from the game, mainly because we can't offer them much better than the odd Sunday game in a public park.

"It's so much different in other countries. Arsenal, for example, have a ladies team and offer the girls financial assistance.

"One of our internationalists played for them and they gave her a job in the sports shop at Highbury.

"Football is a big male sport and the perception is that the women are no good. That's simply not true and I wish the barriers could be broken down.

"I would love to see a Celtic or Rangers women's club, with the Old Firm assisting with money, equipment, facilities or whatever.

"I think they would benefit from even minimal investment."

McGonigle knows that female football can never equal the male variety.

She conceded: "People who think we can have a full professional league are deluding themselves. Possibly the best we can expect is a semi-pro league 10 or 15 years in the future. But that, as always, depends on investment.

"We are miles behind countries like Japan, where top players earn around pounds 25,000-a-year.

"Brazil has a big professional league, while Norway, the world champions, are semi- pro. We are truly amateur, and it makes the job frustrating at times.

"A big change recently the SFA's decision to come on board at international level. They have assumed responsibility for our national sides and that's a huge weight off my shoulders.

"We recently beat Wales 6-2 in an Under-20 match in Wrexham and the SFA picked up the tab for everything."

This weekend, Cumbernauld face Clyde in the Scottish Cup final (Forthbank, 2pm). As ever, Maureen will attend to all the small details like a mother hen.

Go and support the girls. They deserve a better share of the audience.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 8, 1997
Previous Article:Not just a boy's game; Why picture is improving for women in football.

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