The girls will play for one of three teams, under-13s, under-15s and under-17s, in the two-day event, styled on the long-running inter-county sports competitions between the two regions, which are staged alternately in Orkney and Shetland.
Around 40 youngsters are expected to travel to Orkney to participate in the matches, to be held on Saturday and Sunday at the Pickaquoy pitch in Kirkwall.
Scottish Sea Farms, which operates in Orkney and Shetland, as well as on the Scottish mainland, is helping to fund the inaugural Orkney v Shetland Girls Challenge Cup, after being approached by the company’s Kirkwall-based Kirsty Brown.
Brown, an Environmental Scientist and advocate for women’s and girls’ football, said the tournament was a long-term goal but had been put together in a couple of months.
‘We’ve often spoken about it but we’re only now putting the plans into action, thanks to the generous funding,’ she said.
‘We started girls’ training in Orkney last summer and they have been playing against mixed sides and improving with every game. But there has always been the ultimate goal of having an Orkney versus Shetland Cup, just girls playing against girls.
‘We’ve got players from three or four different clubs, anybody in Orkney who wants to play, and they’re all very excited.’
The funding – £5,000 in total – will help towards the cost of hiring the pitch, the trophies and medals and a celebratory dinner on the Saturday night, as well as the travel and accommodation costs of the Shetland players.
Brown, who plays for Kirkwall City, and Orkney Women player Katie Foulis, collaborated with Shetland Girls Football Secretary Adam Priest to get the tournament off the ground.
Priest said not only did the funding make the event viable, but it also ensured that players were selected on their talent.
‘We tried to select girls from across the islands and give everyone an equal chance, if they have the ability, to take part in this trip. Travelling from Shetland is expensive so the sponsorship is key.
‘The support we’ve had from Scottish Sea Farms has been instrumental in giving girls the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with their peers from other areas of Scotland.’
Priest, who helped establish girls’ football in Shetland in 2017 when his footballing nine-year-old daughter asked him if girls’ football could be set up in Shetland, said it was tough for girls playing in boys’ leagues.
‘To play other girls their age they have to travel out of Shetland as we don’t have enough players to start a girls’ league yet.’
But there are some advantages to training in mixed teams, as Brown – who coaches the under-13s in Orkney – pointed out.
‘We had a girl of nine in goal last weekend and she was half the height of the goal, but she’s played against boys so she is ready for anything!’