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Empire Rising: Glasgow Girls and Boys FC

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• Glasgow Girls buck the trend to establish Glasgow Boys 
• Club has expanded greatly, including into specialist disabled coaching, since creation in 2008 *Senior women's side preparing for tour of The Gambia
The story of men’s or boys clubs branching out and forming sister clubs for women or girls is now a familiar tale. The story of Glasgow Girls FC and Glasgow Boys FC, however, is rather different. Unusually, and perhaps uniquely in Scottish grassroots football, the former founded the latter. 
Back in 2008, newly-formed Glasgow Girls had just a single under-13 side with 13 players. Seven years on and the club, based at Budhill Park in the East End of the city, now has scores of packed teams from under-7 to under-17 to senior level – and, most recently, a six-team strong boys section. After two seasons as Budhill Park FC, it has been re-named to reflect the shared identity and vision of the girls and boys set-ups. 
The club is also the recipient of the Scottish FA’s Disability Inclusive Quality Mark Award, enabling boys and girls from across Budhill, Greenfield, Hallhill, Baillieston and Shettleston to benefit from specialist, high-quality coaching.      
Moreover, with £10,000 already invested and a further £75,000 of grants secured to modernise and expand the club’s facilities at Budhill, not to mention a tour of The Gambia completed in later summer, the meteoric rise of Springboig’s ever-expanding football empire is not over yet.
The club’s senior women’s side traveled to The Gambia , one of Africa’s smallest and most impoverished nations, in September to promote female grassroots football, a trip which will complete the club’s remarkable journey from humble beginnings in Glasgow’s East End to prestige on the world stage. 
After a series of friendlies against local sides, the tour climaxed with a glamour tie against The Gambian Woman’s National Team, which only played its first-ever match in 2007 and remains unranked by FIFA, at the 30,000-capacity Independence Stadium in Bakau. To fund the trip, the 22-player squad and their four coaches completed a £16,000 fundraising effort. 
Glasgow Girls chairman Jim Strathdee said: “Female sport is not encouraged in Gambia, although the sport is growing as with the rest of the world.
“We think this is the chance of a lifetime for some of our girls who have never been outside Scotland to see a different culture and style of football.”
“The trip will be used to promote the FIFA campaign ‘live your goals’ and so the players will help promote how young women can aspire to a career in football both here in Scotland and The Gambia,” tour organiser Martin Myers said.
FIFA’s #liveyourgoals campaign aims to increase the number of women and girls playing football worldwide from around 30 million to over 45 million ahead of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Myers added: “We hope the games will raise the profile of the women’s game in Gambia and the wider West African region so that more people can get involved, follow the game, attend matches and promote the sport.”

David Kelly | YFS South East Region Journalist
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