Originally founded as Stewarton Ladies, Kilmarnock Ladies are the oldest women’s club in Scottish history. They competed in the first ever Women’s FA Cup Final, losing to Southampton in 1971 and 1972. It was only in 1999 that the club became known as Kilmarnock and the partnership with Kilmarnock FC began.
The relationship has helped the club according to first team manager David Howie, who said: "Basically we’ve kind of pulled it together, it’s a more professional club. Pushing through with Kilmarnock also helps us with sponsorship and benefits.
"The girls get to play on the Rugby Park stadium, training there twice a week, using the physio facilities and gym facilities that we get."
This incentive is one that will appeal to anyone who wants to get involved. Getting treated as a professional will certainly tempt young girls to think of a future in football. Howie agreed, saying: “From a youth point of view we’re trying to take it and consolidate and carry that forward in the next couple of years, and become where we are in the Senior Ladies game, hopefully with all the girls staying with the club. To that point, it should strengthen the club, and keep us on a firm base for a number of years to come."
Kilmarnock Ladies have teams at under-13, under-15 and under-17 level, and Howie is confident that their development is progressing well.
"[The under-13s] have been put into a Performance League but it was essentially a Development Team. They were all very young girls, 10-11 years of age. They were going up against the best in the country, Glasgow City, Celtic, Rangers, which are strong, strong teams. Although we’re a large club from the South West, it was a Development Team that was stuck in a Performance League," Howie said.
"This year in the first half of the season they’ve been battered and bruised, but they girls are still smiling. They still come to football and love it."
The under-15’s have been performing fantastically and are on track to defend their League Cup title, with a final against Hamilton coming up.
"That team will do excellent. They are the strongest team in this league. I’m very confident that they will win their league. They’re undefeated in this season so far, going from strength to strength," Howie said.
The under-17’s have also had success previously, winning their regional league last year. They have also progressed to the last-16 of the Scottish Cup.
"This year they’re sitting about third in their league. It’s a strong squad but they are competing with the best, so we’ve consolidated there."
The future is looking bright for Kilmarnock Ladies and it is certainly a great time to get involved!