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Opportunity for all is Murphy's law at Hearts academy

Kevin Murphy left Manchester City to develop women's and girls' football at Tynecastle.

The new head of Heart of Midlothian's women's and girls' academy left one of the most successful clubs in the world because he wants to replicate its success in Scotland.

Kevin Murphy quit Manchester City's famous academy to return home and guide Hearts as they bring the women's game officially into the club for the first time.

Murphy said: "Whether you are a boy or a girl, you should have the same dreams and aspirations.

"If you are a young girl growing up a Hearts fan and you want to play for Hearts, then you should have that dream to go and do that.

"I think that's what the club's burning ambition is - that whether you are a boy or a girl, you will be treated the same."

Murphy cut his teeth in coaching with Hamilton Accies women before working with younger national teams for the Scottish FA.

He then took charge of Rangers women before overseeing the whole women's and girls' set-up at Manchester City, where the huge investment in the game sees the female and male stars rubbing shoulders at the vast Etihad Campus training facility.

Kevin Murphy: Quit Manchester for Edinburgh.
Kevin Murphy: Quit Manchester for Edinburgh. STV

Looking back on his two years at City, Murphy said: "It was an unbelievable experience. It is not just a massive club in world men's football but also in women's football.

"I learned so much there, it is such a high-performance environment that you cannot but learn from it.

"I saw from day one just how inclusive the club was. It was not just a tick-box for them to have a women's and girls' programme. It was a part of the family.

"It is part of what they do and they celebrate its success.

"I think in Scotland we still have a lot of work to do to achieve that. It is great that more clubs are now taking ownership of their women's teams but we have to make sure it isn't just a tick-box exercise.

"I have to say that in my first few months at Hearts that is all I have got - that there is a real want and need to join everything up so that we can reflect and hopefully emulate the success of Manchester City in terms of how [the women's team] is perceived.

"That is my driving ambition here."

Hearts: Girls will get the same training as boys.
Hearts: Girls will get the same training as boys. STV

Hearts women will not officially come under the club's banner until November, when a six-figure investment in the first team and academy sides comes to fruition.

The boys' academy will be replicated for girls who will receive the same levels of coaching at the club's training base at Oriam, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Murphy took up his role at Hearts in January and is working towards the November opening, including recruiting players and coaches.

While the training infrastructure is almost identical to the one established for the boys, Murphy admitted there are some differences in approach that have to be considered.

He said: "The example I always give is; if you ask a bunch of boys to run round the pitch, they will go and do it. If you ask girls, they will ask 'why?'.

"Girls just tend to be more inquisitive, they want to know why they are doing things in training and they will challenge you as a coach.

Shelley Kerr has led Scotland to the World Cup.
Shelley Kerr has led Scotland to the World Cup. SNS

"But primarily they are the same, and primarily the girls in the academy will all be treated the same as the boys, which I think is a huge step forward."

Women's football in Scotland has taken major strides in recent years due to the success of the national team qualifying first for the European Championships, and in June it will compete in the World Cup for the first time.

Allied to progression from the Glasgow City and Hibernian women's sides in the Champions League, Murphy believes there has never been a better time to invest in the game.

He said: "I have been involved in women's football for 14 years and the growth and development of it in that time has been unbelievable.

"For Shelley [Kerr] and the team to get to the World Cup now is massive but we have got to make sure that we capitalise on it.

"There are more girls playing football than ever before but we have got to still increase that.

"At the grassroots we need to not just increase numbers but increase the quality so that we continually qualify for championships."

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