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Kerry Beattie seals historic move to Glasgow City but Glentoran captain Jessica Foy hopes more players will stay local in new professional era


Kerry Beattie is off to Glasgow City while Glentoran captain Jessica Foy made history with her new contract at The Oval. Pics: Pacemaker Press

Kerry Beattie is off to Glasgow City while Glentoran captain Jessica Foy made history with her new contract at The Oval. Pics: Pacemaker Press

Kerry Beattie is off to Glasgow City while Glentoran captain Jessica Foy made history with her new contract at The Oval. Pics: Pacemaker Press

Glentoran Women captain Jessica Foy is hoping that her history-making professional contract means that transfers like her team-mate Kerry Beattie’s might eventually become things of the past.

Beattie has signed for Scottish giants Glasgow City in what is itself an historic move as the first time a Northern Irish club has received a transfer fee for a pro player.

That’s after Beattie and more members of the Glentoran squad followed Foy's lead with contracts to become the first female players ever to sign paid deals with an Irish League club.

Foy is confident the move is just the start of what will be a bright, and more lucrative future for locally-based players.

"For us to get to this point now, where we're starting to pay women to play football is incredible," she told Radio Ulster. "It shows the growth of women's football over the last number of years.

"On a personal note, I'm incredibly proud and honoured to be the first female to put a signature on a piece of paper.

"This is something we've been striving towards over the last few years and we've been putting the professional structures in place. Now we're starting to get a bit of payment as a reward for all the hard work and commitment that the girls put in.

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"For those young players coming through the Academy at 18 or 19, it means now that they don't really have to go out and look for part-time jobs in order to fund coming to football. They'll now be rewarded and paid for their time and effort in football. It's only the start for us. We have to look at the model in Scotland and that's where we're aiming to get to.

"It's fantastic that we've started now and hopefully over the next couple of seasons, we can grow and start to develop and continue the success for our club."

Beattie's move to Glasgow City, who have won the Scottish Women's Premier League 14 times in succession, is a landmark one for Glentoran and the player herself, who netted an incredible 29 goals last season as Glentoran won the Premiership title for the ninth time.

“We have moved quickly to professionalise our squad," explained chairman Stephen Henderson. "This was designed to reward those players for their commitment and talent, but also to protect the club’s investment in their development.

"It is a testament to the progress we have made, that we are the single largest contributing club to the International team’s success, but with that success comes interest from full time professional clubs. Before professionalisation, we risked losing these players for no return on our investment.

"Kerry’s transfer on a full-time contract with Glasgow City FC, thereby moving from Northern Ireland’s most successful club to Scotland’s most successful club, clearly demonstrates a pathway for all our aspiring young talent. This pathway is open to all. We will never stand in the way of talent reaching the highest level it possibly can, but now the club and our coaches will receive the recognition our efforts deserve and allow us to invest in developing the next Kerry Beattie."

And yet, at the same time, captain Foy is hopeful that the lure of leaving Northern Ireland will not appear so lustrous in the future as Glentoran and other Irish League clubs continue to grow.

"That's the end goal; in a few years time that when players are coming through the Academies here, they'll strive to become players in Northern Ireland rather than aspiring to leave our country," she said. "I think the success of the past couple of years have really helped that. Now that we've got that professional status, hopefully that will help us in the long run to retain the best players in Northern Ireland.

"It might take a few years yet to get to the stage Scotland are at but this is a fantastic building block to start on. Hopefully in years to come, it will be reflected in the clubs' success in Europe and the international team on a global stage."

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