Everyone arriving in trainers and ball gowns, heels in a bag ready to be put on for the photos, The Grand Central Hotel done up, with lights, pink to match the SW/S theme, the wind outside blowing, men and women of all ages gathering in the foyer, trying to figure out which table they are sitting at…

Well it could only be the 2021 Scottish Women in Sports Awards.

From Rose Reilly in conversation with Emma Dodds about her journey from being a wee lass from Ayrshire, having the pretend to be a boy just so she can play in the local football team, to her playing for AC Milan and Italy’s national team and what it meant for her to be in a very big room full of Scottish Women in Sport.

Emma Dodds was our host for the evening and kept everyone entertained the night right through to telling everyone that the trains were off due to the weather. She and Rose Reilly sat down and captivated the entire room: “I asked Santa for a ball for Christmas one year, and I got a doll. So I swapped it with a wee boy down the street for a ball. I wonder how he’s doing now,

“I just thought if I was good enough for Celtic they would let me play but they wouldn’t let me play because I was a lassie”. Despite going on to win footballer of the year in 1983, Rose was scouted by Celtic Coaches early on in her career, but when they found out she was a girl, they were no longer interested.

Reilly went on to share with Emma that she was expelled from school at the age of 15: “The boys are girls weren’t meant to play together, but because I wanted to play football I went and played with them, so I got the belt when I did and eventually they kicked me out.” None of that held her back though, and at 17, she left her family and Scotland behind, destined for Italy and international fame.

At the end of their conversation Emma asked what all good interviewers ask when in the presence of a great sporting hero;

What advice would you give to the rest of the women in the room who are at the beginning of their careers?

“I hate being asked that question”…

But Rose Reilly didn’t need to relay any advice to the room, by telling her story, she empowered the entire room of nominees, winners, family, friends and everyone at SW/S to keep going and focus on the end goal.

Now, onto the nominees and the winners of the SW/S 2021 Awards.

The night kicked off with the TruWealth, Pioneer in Sport. Our nominees for the award were Gillian Lindsay, Elsie Cook, GB Hockey.

Gillian Lindsay is an Olympic Medallist and World Champion rower, who since retiring from competing, still remains a keen rower but has shifted her attention to the future generation of female rowers. She has been involved in setting up rowing programmes in schools and encouraging girls to engage in the sport. 

Elsie Cook is one of the most influential figures in women’s football history in Scotland and beyond.  An accomplished player who went on to help found the Scottish Women’s FA and get the ban on women playing football lifted in the early seventies.  She also managed the Scotland team. Her enthusiasm for the game is contagious and she organises trips for youngsters to attend the WNT games.

At a very special ceremony in Cardiff on 15th October 2021, the surviving members of the very first women’s GB Hockey Squad in 1965, were presented with their GB Honours Caps by the current GB Hockey President and representatives of The Hockey Museum (THM). The feats of this pioneering team only came to notice following THM’s project to compile a complete and accurate record of all GB hockey internationals. Since this very first GB hockey team, a further 44 Scottish women have gone on to represent GB with Scottish players part of the 1992, 2012 & 2020 Olympic bronze medal squads.

Our Winner of the award was Gillian Lindsay, who accepted her award on the night from the sponsors at TruWealth. Reflecting on her own career, Gillian had this advice for girls and young women considering taking up rowing: “Don’t worry if rowing doesn’t come easy. There is a high success rate for typically ‘non sporty’ kids in rowing, who go on to become national champions. You’re in it for the long haul and it will take a couple of years, but working in a team towards a goal and as a squad is one of the most rewarding aspects. You don’t get better at the things you give up on!” A friend and colleague of Katherine Grainger who attended on the night described Lindsay as an inspiration to young women in sport, who might not otherwise get involved in team sports because they don’t fit the ideology of a typical sportswoman.

Our next award of the evening was Active Scotland’s Media and Gender Award. Our nominees were Claire Nelson, Heather Dewar, and Margot McCuaig.

Claire Nelson is CEO of Netball Scotland and The Strathclyde Sirens. Whilst The Sirens rose in the ranks and won the hearts & respect of a global netball audience as the most talked about team in the sport, at home the Scottish media weren’t covering their results – despite there being very little else sport happening during the pandemic. So, unprepared to accept the unacceptable anymore, the Strathclyde Sirens launched the campaign #HeadlinesNotSidelines on International Women’s Day. The Sirens began a targeted campaign of engaging with news editors to build awareness of the Sirens, working collaboratively to create space for match reports and features across multiple platforms.

Heather Dewar is a journalist, TV and radio presenter and podcast host. She was the first ever Women’s Sport Reporter at BBC Scotland, and the first women’s sport podcast host. In her “Fair Play – Women in Sport” show, Heather talks to prominent sportswomen about their life, career and sporting issues. She raises the profile and tells the stories of a variety of sportswomen across a number of sports.

Margot McCuaig ensures equality through her documentaries and brings to life some of the amazing stories that have not yet been told. Honeyballers tells the incredible story of the pioneering Scottish women who fought against adversity to develop women’s football. It was premiered on TV in September 2013. She has also featured tennis player Elena Baltacha and football legend Rose Reilly, in addition to the story of The Women Who Built Glasgow City and on Carol Anne Stewart and Laura Montgomery. Reaching a wide audience through MG Alba, Margot’s passion and drive cannot be beaten.

The winner of the Media and Gender Award, was presented by sponsors of the award Active Scotland to Claire Nelson. The Strathclyde’s #headlinesnotsidelines campaign gained the team great traction and coverage. The results of the movement were strong. Within 7 weeks there were 144 pieces across national platforms including press, broadcast and online making Strathclyde Sirens the most covered women’s sports team in the UK. BBC Sport Online, Scotsman, Daily Record, The Herald and The Press & Journal all carried weekly coverage from pre/post match reports to athlete interviews, vlogs & double page features. There’s still so much work to be done but for netball and for women’s sport in the UK this major progress in such a short period of time with a small budget is absolutely game changing.

Next up, was the QTV Power of Sport. Our nominees for this award, were Street Soccer, Scottish Sports Futures, and United Glasgow FC.

Street Soccer Scotland uses football inspired training and personal development as a medium to empower people who are affected by social exclusion. Their aim is to create purpose, hope and relationships using football to support people on their journey to security and happiness. With a specific programme for women in Glasgow Dundee and Aberdeen they reach out and appeal to female players using ‘football themed’ exercise and aerobic sessions. Run by female staff they offer peer support and mentoring, and also offer players the opportunity to take part in first aid, sports coaching and CV workshops. Built on lived experience – many of the experienced staff have faced the same issues and challenges as our players and understand what it’s like to feel alone, and the huge difference that being part of a team can make. Their football programmes are in place to help socially excluded men and women across Scotland feel better about themselves and their future.

Scottish Sports Futures programmes are youth led and focussed with purpose in areas experiencing challenge with vulnerable and ‘easy to ignore’ young people and families. It’s vital to their work that women and girls are represented at all levels and so they work to upskill local young people to become role models, and leaders in their own areas. Using sport as a tool to overcome adversity, trauma and isolation and increase confidence, self-esteem, aspiration and hope by creating safe spaces for young people to thrive.

United Glasgow F.C was formed in 2011 to provide a point of access to regular, structured football for those who would usually find themselves excluded. United Glasgow FC’s Women’s Team was founded in 2015 and currently plays in the Scottish Women’s Football League (SWFL) Division 2. As well as the competitive women’s team, they organise community sessions. Their aim is to grow and incorporate a community education and inclusion project and participation led football sessions – and result in a true community football club which represents all of Glasgow, regardless of background or financial position.

The winner of the QTV Power of Sport, was awarded to Scottish Sports Futures – You can’t be what you can’t see, so the organisation purposefully profile their female participants and leaders, encouraging and supporting them to share their own stories and journeys. Working to understand the needs of the communities, individuals and groups and then with them seek solutions and create youth work inputs to address these needs.

The next award was Kubenet Volunteer in Sport. Our Finalists were Katriona Wallace, Sophie Allen, and Pamela Stephen & Fiona Pollock.

Katrina is President, Secretary and Covid Officer at her bowling club. She has been President for the last 4 years and a member for much longer. She works full time as a primary school teacher but still manages to coordinate club activities and engage with members and the committee. She has ensured everyone was kept informed during lockdown and also had great ideas on how to still focus on getting back to the green as soon as we could. She’s very much brought the club into the 21st Century and is a cornerstone of its success over the last 4 years.

In the Last year Sophie has attended every possible athletics meeting as an official in athletics. She has given up weekends and some of her midweek time to turn out to make sure the sport still goes on, she has officiated at more than 40 competitions in the summer season totalling over 360 hours. Sophie has mentored other new officials and is an advocate to get more women and girls involved in athletics and in particular officiating. Sophie does all this while holding down two part time jobs in sport as well.

Fiona and Pamela embody a team approach which is central to the values and ethos of the club. Both have, over the last 20 years, worked together to support and maintain juniors. Being connected was very important for everyone during lockdown and both Pamela and Fiona used their experience and personal touch using social media and phone calls to keep in touch with junior members regularly, relaying the training plans and virtual events to help keep athletes active.

The Award was presented from Kubenet, to Sophie Allan. On accepting her award, Sophie said: “It’s about giving back and keeping them in that sport forever”. At 21 years old Sophie is an inspiration to young women coming through the sport.

MG Alba’s Sporting Champion was our next award. The nominees for this award were Glasgow Gals, Sabrina & Raza from Active Life Club, and Fiona Redpath. 

Glasgow Gals Cycling Club is a women’s only cycling club which encourages women to get back into and continue cycling. The club helps women to improve their confidence on the bike which enables them to cycle more for both recreation and for commuting. Club members share information on gear and kit, talk to each other about routes and rides, and plan rides together. Rides with coffee and cake stops enable people to relax and talk more, enabling riders to offload their troubles and stresses. The ride leaders listen to feedback about the rides and activities run by the club and ensure that ideas are listened and actioned. The club reduces social isolation by bringing people together with a shared interest, and at the same level. Friendships are made, providing a support network both on the bike and off.

Active Life Club (ALC), which offers multiple sports programmes to the disadvantaged communities, increasing uptake in sports and physical activities. Established in 1999 to empower young people through sport, and encourage participants to become volunteers, coaches, active citizens and tackling under representation in sports.

Glenrothes Strollers Football Club have been a member of Sported for over a year now and in that time Fiona engaged with women and girls in her community, encouraging them to participate in sport. She has been a driving force behind a wellbeing group that was set up for women, as well as their recreational and mental health football teams for women too. These programmes not only enhance women’s physical and mental health but also empowers them to push themselves and encourage others within their community to do the same. The initiative has been commendable during the pandemic when so many individuals and families were really struggling to cope during lockdown.

The winner of the MG Alba’s Sporting Champion was Glasgow Gals. The club saw a huge increase due to The Pandemic in 2020 and over the year, those members who felt the benefits from the club have come forward to volunteer and to give their time to help other women embrace their passion for cycling. The team all volunteer their time and support the riders through difficult times, they know the support they have gotten from the club and continue to make sure others get it too.

Frame’s Coach/Manager of the Year Award was our next award. The finalists were Nichola Crawford, Andy Young, and Catriona Matthew. 

Nichola Crawford is a long standing coach with Aberdeen AAC, attending sessions year round and in all conditions, matching the athletes’ level of commitment. Through methodical planning, careful monitoring and appropriate competition signposting she works to ensure that athletes don’t over train or jeopardise their sporting career, physical health or mental health in any other way. During lockdown, Nichola moved training online, providing athletes with weekly training plans so they could continue to train individually and also setting up weekly group training. To keep athletes focussed and motivated, individuals within the group were tasked with researching and leading parts of the sessions or the weekly challenges.  

Andy Young coaches a number of elite Scottish athletes and has been hugely instrumental in the rise of Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie. After guiding the star duo to a series of superb performances last year, he was named Scottish Athletics  4J Studios Performance Coach of the Year at the 2020 4J Studios Awards.

Catriona Matthew became the first European captain in history to win the Solheim Cup twice. Catriona, who three years ago led the European side to a thrilling win on home soil at Gleneagles, guided her team, who started the event very much as the underdogs, to an incredible performance in front of a partisan American crowd in Ohio, replicating the final hole success she enjoyed in the Perthshire sunshine in 2019.  

Our winner was Catriona Matthew, unfortunately she could not be with us on the night, however Emma Dodd’s spoke to her about what the win meant to her. Catriona’s qualities as a leader were crucial in handling some high pressured situations to perfection. Believing in her team and thinking outside the box, led to their most recent wins. 

The UWS Team of the Year nominees were Scotland Rugby 7’s, Scotland Women’s Cricket Team, and The Strathclyde Sirens. 

The Scotland Women’s 7s squad are trail-blazers. For the first time we will see them take part in one of the highlights of next year’s sporting calendar, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Many of the players who, as the year continued, helped Scotland Women climb into the world’s top ten in the XV-a-side game for the first time, honed their skills and sharpened their appetite by flying the flag for Scotland in the stamina-sapping sevens arena. Scotland Women secured their place in Birmingham after a formidable campaign in the arduous proving ground of the Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Series in both Lisbon and Moscow earlier this June.

After nearly 18 months without international cricket, Scotland began 2021 by beating ICC Full Member Ireland for only the third time in their history, before making it four, three months later as they became Champions of Europe by taking four wins from four matches at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup European Qualifier in La Manga. The victory keeps them in contention for the World Cup in South Africa in 2023.

Season 20/21 saw Strathclyde Sirens establish themselves as one of the top sides in the Vitality Netball Super League, despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic. Sirens were the only team to have to travel the biggest distance to the centralised venue in London, week in and out, to ensure Covid safety was maintained and competition could continue. The team comprises semi-professional players who juggled full time jobs as teachers, healthcare workers and lawyers, who also juggle childcare and family commitments, study, and manage to train as a team 3 – 4 times a week; and then travel to play their matches. After pushing the big hitters all season, Strathclyde Sirens finished in their best position of 6th since the franchise joined the league in 2017.

The winners of the UWS Sports Team were Scotland Women’s Cricket Team. The Team, led by Kathryn Bryce, also beat the Netherlands, Germany and France to dominate the competition and book their place in next year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier, where the top two teams will win a place in the World Cup. They are now ranked 13th in the ICC T20I Rankings, and have a chance to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in January.

The Sportscotland Young Sports Woman 2021, nominees were Katie Johnson, Chloe Grant, and Grace Crawford. 

Katie has had a breakthrough year in 2021. With all events cancelled during the cross country and indoor seasons, Katie set her sights on preparation for the 2021 outdoor track and field season. The 16 year old Edinburgh AC athlete travelled to England to contest for medals in the 800m in both the U17 and U20 age group championships. Katie returned successful, taking Gold in her event at both.

Chloe began racing karts she was eight years old, now 15, she has taken over 80 podium finishes and has won 3 Championships. Chloe was involved with Susie Wolff’s Dare to be Different Charity, working at various events over 4 years as a racing role model. In 2019 the Scottish Motor Racing Club announced Chloe as their Rising Star, the youngest to be awarded this accolade. Knockhill Race Circuit proposed putting Chloe through her ARDS test at 13 yrs of age, the youngest in Scotland, to which she excitedly accepted and passed. Chloe then won the Junior Saloon Car Championship Scholarship in April 2021, she had won with the highest score ever achieved in all the years of the competition.

Grace Crawford’s year started in style with a superb victory in the Club’s Ladies Championship Final in May, as she birdied the last three holes of an incredible match. National representation came this season, earning a Scotland cap in the 2021 Boys & Girls Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa, with the Scots just missing out on the title, before being the only Scot to earn a place in the Great Britain & Ireland Junior Vagliano Trophy in the Netherlands last month. Grace was also given a call-up to compete in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship alongside some of the best players on the European Tour, and her performances were also recognised in being awarded a golf scholarship at the Albany Golf Academy and Windsor High School in the Bahamas.

The winner of the Young Sportswoman of the Year was Katie Johnson. 2021 saw Katie secure selection represent both GB (at U18 level) and Scotland (U20) at the Manchester International. In this match she helped the U20 Women set a new Scottish record in the 4x400m relay. Representing Scotland via the Scottish Schools Athletics Association, this season, Katie also took the Schools International and UK School Games 800m titles. 

The next award was the SW/S Inspiration in Sport. Our finalists were, Linda Campbell, Active Life Club, and Alison Miller Duff.

Linda and her daughter joined a local football club this year, having never played football in her life, at 46 years old Linda has attended every session since. What is inspirational about this is just this year in January she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Colitis. Despite the effect it has had on her mental health she has remained upbeat and focused on improving her mental health. She is always willing to assist the coach with administration duties and always goes above and beyond to ensure the sessions take place if the coach can’t attend to ensure women don’t miss out. She enjoys football that much she now helps coach under 7 girls for the same club and is looking to undertake her coaching badges.

Active Life Club (ALC) offers multiple sports programmes to the disadvantaged communities increasing uptake in sports and physical activities. They have collectively dedicated 40 years of the volunteering together to transform the community.  Raza is a founding member of ALC, established in 1999 to empower young people through sport which has magnified, young participants becoming volunteers, coaches, active citizens and making full contribution in tackling under representation in sports particularly young women from minority ethnic backgrounds. Sabrina has played an instrumental role in inspiring women through her role as a driving instructor and supported many women to become more independent. She has committed to unlimited volunteering hours; from a music teacher to exercise instructor, boxing trainer, and encouraging young women to take part in sports in a cultural sensitive environment, breaking barriers to participation. She has been creatively engaging with women though regular weekly classes and issue based activities to boost their confidence and ability to take up volunteering.

Alison Miller-Duff is a member of jogscotland group Ready Steady Go Pitreavie (RSGP) who has achieved amazing things despite a serious long-term health condition. Not one to give in and shut herself away, Alison promptly signed up to join Ready, Steady, Go Pitreavie. Alison soon progressed through the beginners’ group, pushing herself to see what her body could do. Always cheerful and with a massive smile on her face, she found she thoroughly enjoyed the running group. In May 2021, Alison achieved the amazing feat of running a half marathon in 2 hours 10 mins, a truly fantastic result. She’s an inspiration, and a much-valued member of her group and the jogscotland community. 

The winner of the SW/S Inspiration in Sport Award was Active Life Club. Sports activities had been effected due to Covid, though both have been busier than ever, offering online sports activities, classes, digital inclusion, home learning and tackling food poverty. They involved their young people in many campaigns, including Eid awareness, Islamophobia awareness, Black History Month, lunch club, outdoor challenges, and women outdoor groups. Both are unsung heroes and are still going strong after 40 years of volunteering.

The penultimate award was our Para Athlete of the Year. The finalists were Toni Shaw, Aileen Mcglynn, and Maria Lyle.

18 year old swimmer Toni Shaw qualified for her first Paralympic Games representing Paralympics GB at Tokyo 2020. Swimming in the S9 classification Toni competed in three individual events as well as part of two relay teams. Toni won Paralympics GB’s first medal in the pool securing Bronze in her favoured 400m Freestyle event. She went on to finish fourth in both her other individual events. The bronze medal adds to her already impressive international tally including six World and six European Championship medals. With Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on the horizon Toni will be looking to build on the experience she gained as Commonwealth Games Scotland’s youngest member at Gold Coast 2018 and target the podium in the S9 100m Freestyle event in Birmingham. As an ambassador of Scottish Swimming’s learn to swim framework Toni is passionate about promoting inclusion across the sport and is an excellent role model to all and in particular other women in sport. 

Come back queen of Paralympics Aileen McGlynn OBE competed in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics on the velodrome alongside pilot Helen Scott. Aileen competed in both the1000m Time Trial where she medalled silver, as well as the WB Individual Pursuit, where she finished 8th overall. She is a highly accomplished athlete and person, as an alumni of multiple Paralympics, world championships, and world record holders.

Maria Lyle is a T35 Para Athlete, she is a Paralympic, World, Commonwealth and European medallist. Her most recent success was at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics where she won Bronze for the T35 100m & 200m. She gives talks to schools, colleges, conferences where she speaks openly and honestly about mental health, the power of sport and the positive effects exercise has on life. Maria is part of the Scottish Disability Sport Young Persons Panel, where she has an active role in shaping the future of disability sport and ensuring the young people’s voices are being heard. 

The winner of the Para Athlete of the Year was awarded by UCI Championship representatives to Aileen McGlynn. At 48, Aileen continues to train hard and inspire many athletes who are visually impaired to take up track cycling. She is a credit to both Scottish and British para cycle sport.

Our final Award was the GRM Marketing Sportswoman of the Year. The nominees were Katie Archibald, Laura Muir and Kathleen Dawson.

Katie Archibald achieved gold, silver and two bronze medals at the World Track Cycling Championships. This follows on from gold and silver in Tokyo and three gold medals at the European Championships. Katie capped an outstanding year with a dominant display to take the World Omnium title for the second time. Silver in the Points race completed a packed schedule and a second bronze in the Madison. Her total of four medals equals the best ever haul by a British women at a single World Championships.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Laura Muir’s hard work and determination over the past 10 years culminated in a historic performance to win Scotland’s first individual Olympic medal in athletics for 33 years. This year Laura has rewritten the British and Scottish Record books once again as she smashed her own 1500m outdoor record and claim the silver medal in the Olympic final. Earlier in the season she also delivered a new Scottish Record over 800m – to add to the 1000m, 1500m and Mile records she already had. Her races this year were nothing short of inspirational and for Scottish youngsters to see ‘one of their own’ deliver an Olympic Silver medal and record breaking performances. In 2021, she was once again announced as the Scottish athletics 4J Studios Athlete of the Year.

Kathleen suffered a horrendous knee injury in 2018 and through sheer perseverance and hard work she fought back to become the first Scottish woman in over 100 years to come away with a gold medal in swimming from the recent Tokyo Olympics. As well as achieving the gold medal, the 4 x 100 Medley relay team also broke the world record.   Kathleen also became European Champion in the women’s 100 Backstroke. She won this race & then was told 20 mins later she would have to swim it again due to a faulty starting system in one of the outside lanes. Kathleen showed great mental strength to win the race again. At the same meet she also set a European record in the 100 Backstroke.

The GRM Marketing Sportswoman of the Year Award was accepted by Kathleen Dawson, in her socks after breaking her heels. That’s the always glamourous world of sports I suppose.

A huge thanks to everyone that attended on the night, The Voco @ Central for the lovely food. The nominees, the winners, friends and family, and guests that attended, and our sponsors for which the night would not have happened.

With any luck we’ll see you next year for more fun and antics.

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