67HH chats to Fran Alonso: Celtic feeling love of increased SWPL exposure
Celtic FC Women manager Fran Alonso has masterminded a fantastic run of results.
Since returning from lockdown, the Women’s team have played 10, winning 8. In the last 9, they’ve scored 30 and conceded 2 [Celtic FC Women]. It’s remarkable form, that sees Alonso’s side sit third in SWPL 1. A game against second-placed Rangers, then, couldn’t be better-timed [SWPL].
Although Wednesday night’s thumping win over Spartans wasn’t televised, most of Celtic FC Women’s games are. The increased exposure, turning professional and excellent results are turning some of these players into household names. American players Sarah Teegarden and Mariah Lee have become fan favourites, while local heroes Kelly Clark, Chloe Warrington and Sarah Ewens have been ever-present.
Ahead of the game against Rangers, 67 Hail Hail asked Fran about the increased exposure that the Women’s team have had, and how it’s affected them.
Alonso told us:
“I think it’s been a very positive change. Obviously with the men’s league finishing, the focus turns to the Women’s league. It helps that all the games are televised, it has increased the exposure, the passion. We feel it on social media, we feel it in the streets. It’s great.
“When I first came to Scotland, I could see a league that wasn’t where it needed to be. But I could see the potential. The two biggest clubs in the men’s game becoming professional has attracted players from all over Europe. That’s what we’ve done; we’ve brought so much talent into this league.
“This talent that came? It came to stay, not just go like in previous years.”
“They feel like proper professionals”, claims Celtic manager Fran Alonso
“It’s very exciting. The girls feel it. They feel like proper professionals. It also helps that the club is helping to increase the level of professionalism. It’s very important they look after themselves off the pitch, and they behave themselves in a professional manner. Now, they’re out there in the eyes of fans, of society, of the community.
“It gives us more desire to do well. Football is about the fans.
“When we’re losing we will get some stick, that’s part of football, part of passion. At the moment in we are in amazing form; 8 wins from 9 games. We definitely want to keep building and making our fans happy.”
And happy are those fans. With another massive game coming up, against a Rangers side Alonso’s team have beaten twice this season, there’ll be even more scrutiny.
But try finding anything but confidence and happiness from this manager and these players. With the run they’re on, there’s already plenty to be proud of. While Champions League qualification would be a massive success, there’s clearly a long-term vision which includes Europe’s top competition.
Nobody is getting carried away yet. However, this is a very good side, and one being led by the charismatic, immensely likeable Fran Alonso.