First of its kind fixture kicks off IWD celebrations
World Cup winner Rose Reilly returned to her roots in support of local Premiership side, Kilmarnock, on Saturday as the club hosted a unique fixture to celebrate local female players who are using football to overcome physical and mental health challenges.
Ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8th March, Kilmarnock FC’s women’s recreational football team united with premiership rivals Motherwell for a first of its kind friendly at the William McIlvanney Campus, before the first-team squads met in a cinch Premiership clash later in the day.
Run by their respective charitable foundations – The Killie Community and Motherwell FC Community Trust – the sides are two of just three women’s recreational teams affiliated to SPFL clubs, with Hibernian the only other team to boast similar links.
The clubs welcome women of all abilities, ages and backgrounds to play football in a safe and inclusive environment which enables them to meet new friends, while providing a space to chat openly about their battles with weight loss and mental health.
Ahead of the match, which saw Motherwell edge past Kilmarnock in a 7-goal thriller, Rose Reilly inspired both sets of players through an inspirational pre-match team talk:
Speaking at full-time, Rose Reilly commented: “I’m just so proud of the players. Seeing them in their strips, it gives them a sense of belonging. These women that are playing today haven’t had the same opportunities as others to enjoy the game. Regardless of the result, both sets of players are winners and I support them from the bottom of my heart.”
Carol Mochan MSP who has supported the group since its formation, said: “It’s a real honour to be here today with Rose Reilly, supporting The Killie Community. As we head towards International Women’s Day, I think its a real commitment from the charity to see women of all backgrounds enjoying football. Recreational football is definitely a way to engage people at all levels of the sport. One of the key things that I’m really interested in is to make sure that everyone feels that they can participate in sport. It’s certainly fantastic to be supporting it today.”
Marilyn Price, who represented Kilmarnock during the match, added: “It’s an escape from the humdrum of everyday life. For me, it’s time to be Marilyn, instead of ‘mum’ or ‘partner’. At the end of the day, coming along to this has improved my confidence, made me happier and healthier, and helped me to open up.”
Jim Chapman, Kilmarnock FC Women’s Football Development Manager, said: “This unique programme is a crucial step that not only offers an exit strategy for players on our elite pathway, but provides vital opportunities to experience the physical and mental benefits of participation, as well as ensuring lifelong involvement and enjoyment in football.”