The opportunities opening up for footballers in Scotland are so exciting that Natalie Ross admits she wishes she was back in her formative years, as she shares her happiness to see the changes come to fruition for the young girls whose position she was once in.
Ahead of her fifth season in her second stint in the Hoops, the midfielder signed a professional contract with the club committing to the new regime, with the club already making strides bigger than she could have imagined since she put pen to paper back in 2016.
“I can’t believe it’s been five years, it’s passed so quickly - there’s been a lot of ups, some downs, but I definitely think the club’s moving in the right direction. We made a couple of good signings over the break so I can’t wait to get started,” she explained as the Celts returned to training.
“There was always talk. You saw England progressing and it was always the dream that the Scottish league would get to that stage as well, so I think it’s great for Scottish football and hopefully other clubs can follow, so I hope we can sustain it but we’re moving in the right direction.
“For all the younger girls I think it’s a great opportunity - I actually wish I was younger, but I’ve still got a good few years and what a great opportunity they’ve now got.
“When I was younger the big names were Mandy Burns and Stacey Cook and you always looked up to them thinking you wanted to get to that standard, and now these girls can get there, and even better play professionally. It’s amazing to do that full-time so it’s great for these girls.”
At 19, Ross moved south to Arsenal in pursuit of a career in the English game before a bad injury took its toll and she returned to Scotland to Hibs. But now with Scottish clubs developing professional pathways for young players, she believes having that option without having to uproot their lives is a massive step forward for the game.
She said: “If the girls can be in a professional set up in this country, then great. They can look abroad and at England but it'd be a great way to start your professional career, here in Scotland in your home country. It’d be a dream come true for young players.”
The excitement around the upcoming season has only been heightened by the introduction of the winter season for Ross, who believes Celtic are building towards a strong outing for 2020/2021.
“I’ve always preferred a winter league - I like the summer break and how it coincides with the men’s league and the Champions League so I’m really looking forward to it.
“There isn’t much pressure put on us; we know we’re a new team with a lot of new players coming in so we’re gelling.
“I think we’ve got a good basis to be a very, very good team and we showed that in the Glasgow City game. We weren’t together for that long and we beat them 2-1, so that gives you confidence and I’m very confident going into the new season,” she told.
Source / Image: Celtic FC