Shelley Kerr Makes History as First Woman in Scottish Men’s Football
Former Arsenal Ladies manager Shelley Kerr is making history as she becomes the first female manager in Scottish senior football.
After 16 months at Arsenal Ladies, during which time she led them to win the FA Cup (twice!) and the Continental Cup, she is now going to take charge of Stirling University FC in the Lowland Football League.
Kerr, 44, is by no means new to the game. Not only has she played for Scotland almost 60 times, she has also been player-manager for the women’s teams of Hibernian, Kilmarnock and the Spartans. On top of that, she spent four years leading the Scottish Under-19s before being enlisted as Arsenal Ladies’ coach.
She is one of only four women in the UK to hold a UEFA Pro Licence for coaching, as well, and will be studying at Stirling University for her Masters in Sports Management.
The Lowland League was established last year, by unanimous decision of the Scottish FA members. The winner of this season will compete against the Highland League champions, and the triumphant team in that match will compete against the team finishing bottom of League Two, which is the lowest tier of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL). This means that if Kerr can take Stirling University FC to the top of the Lowland League, the team has a chance to make it into professional football.
The idea of managing a men’s team does not faze Kerr, especially considering that she has spent some time training with youth teams in the past, and acted as assistant manager for Stoneyburn Juniors. “I would like to think that this appointment has nothing to do with gender and all to do with capability,” she said, though admitted that she had always had aspirations to work in the men’s game. “It should not be about gender. It should be about your ability to coach.”
Kerr is replacing Eddie May, who has left to become academy coaching manager for the Hibernian youth side. Stirling University FC were runners up in the league last year, but have lost their three opening matches this season. She is hoping to make up for this with her first match on Saturday, playing against Dalbeattie Star FC at home.
Stirling University’s Sports Performance Manager, Raleigh Gowrie, described Kerr as a well-qualified and successful, with a strong vision of developing the team as well as a willingness to enhance the sporting experience for our students,” he said. “I am confident she’ll add great value to our successful programme and complement a strong team.”
Kerr said that while football might be a male dominated sport, she is confident and focused on helping her team to develop as players.“I have developed myself as a player and coach over the years and if I can help other female coaches, fantastic,” Kerr explained. “However, it is all about developing my team.”