Ex-Arsenal Women boss Shelley Kerr revealed how she first got involved in football, how proud she was of her three-trophy haul with the Gunners, as well as what it means to now manage her country – in an exclusive interview with Daily Cannon.
Kerr has enjoyed a successful playing and managerial career, having won every domestic trophy in her native Scotland, while having the honour to represent her country as both a player and head coach.
The former defender only has eyes on getting Scotland to a major international tournament, and looks back at her time at Arsenal and Stirling University with pride, having been the first woman to coach a British men’s team at Stirling.
Her career is unmatched by most in the game, but Shelley isn’t satisfied just making her own accomplishments. She also gives tips to budding coaches and scouts, who could then follow in her footsteps in the future.
You improved Stirling almost season after season following your appointment. How do you look back on your time there?
“It was a brilliant learning experience being involved with such a great club. Coaching a men’s team is obviously a lot different to a women’s team but it was something I enjoyed.
“It was challenging but for me, if you’re not challenged then you’re not going in the right direction and I believe I learnt a lot from the experience.
“Working at a university which prides themselves on sporting excellence allowed me to not only develop the players on the pitch but also off it as well.
“The team did well while I was there but it was always going to be tough to be promoted into the SPFL.”
You’re now head coach of Scotland Women. How big an honour is it to represent your country?
“To be asked to become the Scotland Women’s head coach was an incredible honour. It really is a dream come true.
“It’s also a fantastic time to be taking the job because the foundations are there to build on and everyone is feeling good about the team after such a strong finish at the Euros.
“I’m really excited about what lies ahead as this is a role I’m extremely passionate about.
“We’ve started the campaign well and now it is about building on that start and putting ourselves in the best position possible to qualify for our first World Cup.”
You were a former player before you went into management. Where did your love for football manifest from?
“I loved playing football as soon as I started kicking a ball around from an early age and it just grew from there.
“I have loved all of the opportunities the game has brought me and I believe being involved in football has developed me as a person and made me stronger.
“When I was young, there was no such thing as girls’ football so you had to fight to play with boy’s teams and that’s what I did.
“I am now in a privileged position as national team head coach to help lead the effort to improve opportunities for girls who want to play the game and inspire the next generation.”
Your old club Arsenal have been struggling this season. Would you ever consider a return?
“Having recently been appointed as Scotland women’s head coach I’ve not really thought too far ahead.
“I loved my time at Arsenal but at the moment my focus is firmly on the Scotland national team and making sure we qualify for our first World Cup.”
And do you have any regrets about how your time went with them? I know family commitment was a big issue you wanted to amend
“Winning three trophies in less than 18 months at Arsenal is something I’m proud of.
“With women’s football growing all the time, other clubs became stronger and began to invest more in their teams which was always going to happen.
“It was a great experience and one I look back on fondly but I am enjoying being back in Scotland and spending more time with my daughter Christie.”
What does the future hold for Shelley Kerr?
“I want to take the Scotland Women’s National Team to another major championship and continue the growth of the game in Scotland.
“I believe the foundations are there to achieve that goal and I’m incredibly excited to see what we can achieve as a nation.
“We have a strong squad of players and still have players to return from injury such as Kim Little and Lizzie Arnot which is something we’re all looking forward to.”
You give scouting and coaching tips on your website shelleykerr.co.uk. Do you consider yourself a role model to budding female coaches given your achievements?
“I’m in a really fortunate position to be the national head coach and enjoy giving advice to other coaches.
“I am proud of what I’ve achieved so far, but I want that to continue, and if I’m seen as a role model for others then that is incredibly humbling.”