Friday 13 May 2020 will live forever in the minds of all footballers and especially the youngsters who had been selected to play for the Under 15 Girls’s squad for 2020.
The squad were due to fly to Jersery on Saturday 14 March as part of their preparation for the Bob Docherty Tournament which was being played at Lilleshall a month later.
The World was under attack by a pandemic caused by a new virus called Coronavirus. We had watched the virus spread from China, then to Italy, and finally to the United Kingdom. Initially we were advised not to shake hands at football games but as weeks progressed it was obvious the virus was spreading rapidly and people were getting seriously ill, the S.F.A. took the step to cancel ALL football on Friday 13 March.
Then very soon afterward schools were closed and everyone was advised to stay indoors.
The Bob Doc Tournament was cancelled and the prospect of playing any sport in the forseeable future was grim.
The coaches of the Girls’ squad took the decision to keep the group going through regular contact via the group WhatsApp. Regular quizzes and training challenges were issued and responded to. Birthdays were celebrated and as time went on feelings of how our youngsters (and their parents) were coping with isolation were shared and supported. The group came together and helped each other through the difficult times and celebrated the good times.
The management committee of the SSFA took the decision that, if at all possible, as much schools’ football would be played in season 2020-2021.
That included attempting to organise an international fixture for the Girls so that they could experience that amazing feeling of playing for your country. The Under 18 Boys squad were lucky, if you could use that term, they got that experience playing against Northern Ireland on March 6, a week before all football was cancelled.
As we came our of lockdown and schools returned and football was starting up again it looked hopeful that perhaps that game might emerge. On 15 September 2020 Mr Donaldson announced to the group:
BREAKING NEWS. It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that in principle and provided that the Covid Regulations are strictly adhered too that the Scottish Schoolgirls under 15 squad will play an international against England at Newcastle University on Saturday 14th November with a 3 00 kick off.
You could imagine the excitement that message created. But very soon that game was postponed.
After the dissapointment, life contined within the WhatsApp group. More birthdays were celebrated. Whisper it Mr Donaldson reached that milestone of 70!!!
In December 2020 Mr Donaldson told the group that the English Schools were so dissapointed to cancel the game BUT were very keen to still play the game. That raised spirits in the group.
2020 turned into 2021 and more birthdays were celebrated. Parents often shared great pictures of the girls at previous birthdays and we all laughed.
The restrictions began to ease once more and on 23 March 2021 Mr Donaldson shared this message:
I hope that you are all well and enjoying being back to school!!!!!! Over the last few weeks I have been in touch with England to see what the state of play is with our proposed game against England. I am ecstatic to say the we will play England probably at Newcastle before the summer holidays. The match will take place on a Saturday or Sunday. England have promised to get back to me with 3 dates so that I can get us organised
This was followed on 6 April 2021 with:
Gals. Parents. Coaches. England v Scotland at either Newcastle university or Northumbria university Saturday 5th June with a 3 00 kick off. I hope this brings the same huge smile to your face that it did to me. Obviously there is 8 weeks before the game and many many things to be sorted out but I just wanted you to be aware of the date
As vaccines kicked in and football picked up again, on 4 May Mr Donaldson informed the group:
Hi everyone Mr D here with a short message and more to follow next week:
Scotland v Rangers
Norwood Grass Pitches in Pollock Park
Friday 14th May
kick off 4.30pm
So life was starting to return to normal. The date is now Friday 4 June 2021. Tomorrow our Girls will play England at Newcastle University, experience playing for your country and get an International Cap immedately after the game.
No-one will forget the lockdowns, the anxiety of watching a, once in a lifetime, deadly virus spread across the World, the isolation from friends for months on end.
But this virus has brought this amazing group of young people together so much closer. They have supported each other superbly during the past 14 months. They have built resilience and the ability to deal with challenges; skills that will help in later life. They have developed friendships that will last for the rest of their lives.
So Girls enjoy tomorrow, enjoy every minute. Let’s hear you sing ‘Flower of Scotland’ at the top of your voices. Enjoy the game and enjoy getting that wee blue cap afterwards.