It’s a chilly September night at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School as the AstroTurf pitches began to fill with some of Clydebank’s bright young stars in girls’ football.

The Post attended as Clydebank Girls FC were getting focused with a team talk ahead of their match with Morton Girls, while Dumbarton United’s girls squad were joking and running around together as their training session kicked off.

But this is the start of something special for girls’ football in West Dunbartonshire.

Up until now, Clydebank Girls FC has offered training and matches for girls up to 12 years old, while Dumbarton’s girls currently have squads for the under-nines, under-11s and under-13s.

Lydia Bigorgne, 54, is Clydebank Girls FC’s chair and treasurer. Her eyes were opened to the sport nine years ago when her daughter, then in primary five, came home from school one day to announce she wanted to play football. The mum’s initial response?

“Oh, gosh.”

Determined to find a way for her daughter to get involved, Lydia got to work and set up a Drumchapel team, which has now been incorporated into Clydebank Girls FC.

“It’s a great sport. Yes, for their wellbeing, but it’s not just fitness,” said Lydia.

“They learn how to behave and how to grow up in society. You see their progression.

“There’s still that stigma that girls ‘can’t’ play football. But with Scotland’s Women’s team doing well it’s changing. Now you can see more and more, it’s not just for boys and men.

“Some of them see themselves going there and playing for Scotland. I believe there are definitely some stars in the making in the team.

“With Dumbarton we can give any girl of any age the opportunity. We can give everyone the chance to do something and fulfil their dreams.”

But with girls’ football on the rise nationally, embodied in Scotland Women’s exhilarating qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France this month, these two clubs are now set to unite and create a pathway for youngsters to “realise their dreams”.

Kenny McInnes, Dumbarton FC’s girls’ coach, cannot wait for the opportunity to start up an under-15s and under-17s team too.

“We’ll be able to offer the complete pathway for young girls, keeping them involved,” he explained.

“The girls all really enjoy each other’s company. It’s more of a social thing.

“I would say to anybody to come along, it’s a great bunch. It’s a good way to keep fit, and they’re all serious about football.

“The highlight as a coach is just seeing them all developing as a team and getting on as a group of girls.”

Now training in both Clydebank and Dumbarton during the week to keep the focus on West Dunbartonshire as a whole, the teams are set to formally unite in the new season, with a new name coined to reflect both origins.

The bubbly youngsters themselves wasted no time on Wednesday night telling the Post all about how much they enjoy playing.

Many used to train with boys’ teams before getting started with Dumbarton and Clydebank girls.

There’s a defiant “yes, we can” in response to any remnant of the sexist suggestion in society that “girls can’t play”.

And most of all, these confident young girls are having an absolute ball with their friends.

Ronaldo fan Alicia Burns, 10, said: “I was used to playing football with my brothers. People say girls can’t play football, but we can.”

Centre midfielder Caitlyn Connelly, 12, even had a spell playing for Rangers after she was scouted while playing football with boys.

“I’d been playing football with boys since I was 11, it just got me into it,” she said.

“I like the Scotland player Erin Cuthbert – I like her style of play.

“The thing I enjoy most about playing is just having fun with your friends.”

Eva McInnes, 12, added: “It’s just fun and a good way to get to meet people.

And Sophie Dempster, nine, started playing when she was seven.

“You just have to get stuck in,” she said. “I like to play it because it’s fun, it’s a good thing to be involved with. My friends got me involved.”

Ultimately, the chance for girls to engage in the sport lies at the grass roots level of education, says Gerry Gallagher, Clydebank Girls secretary.

He added: “Girls and women’s football is improving year on year. It starts in the classroom, and with the willingness of a head teacher to make sure girls are included. Now girls have a chance, and more opportunities.”

And having also coached at national level for Scotland, he says we’re seeing a sea change in the sport.

Gerry said: “All Scottish girls and ladies coaches are very proud to have had some input into Scotland getting into the World Cup in France. The girls have got there because of their own desire and commitment.

“Scottish girls’ and ladies’ players in clubs have been improving consistently over the last few years. At elite level some players have taken opportunities recently available to them, and many now earn a living outside of SFA club leagues. That has improved them, and in turn the Scottish team.”

For more information or to join the teams, reach out to the squads via their social media page.