Hearts women

Sean Burt on recruiting in women's football

05 March 2024

It’s been almost four months since Sean Burt made the switch from the dugout to the stands, swapping his assistant manager’s role to a new Women's Head of Recruitment role as Hearts Women continue to make positive strides both on and off the field.


Having been Eva Olid’s assistant since October 2021, Burt made the tough choice to take a step back from his matchday duties as a coach and instead chose to focus on helping the club’s continued progression by taking up the recruitment role, something he admits he always enjoyed.


“I had been heavily involved in the recruitment in previous seasons. Building up relationships with coaches and agents around the world and I very quickly realised that I absolutely loved that. I was very passionate about wanting to deliver the best possible player for Hearts and that is why I made the decision that I did. 


“Making that decision to step away from being Eva’s assistant was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my short career, but Eva, Joe and everyone else at the club fully supported me because we felt that with the way the women’s game is evolving, we needed that role here at Hearts."


Whilst acknowledging that there is always pressure in any recruitment-related role, in any sport, Burt admits that budget restraints in the women's game coupled with Hearts' high-standards, means there is extra pressure to recruit high-quality players. 


“In any given sport, there is pressure to deliver a good quality player. It is my job to identify those quality players and then obviously the management have the final say.


“We don’t want to just recruit from out-with our club, we want to within. We have a wonderful youth academy, and you can already see that flourishing with the likes of Jess, Erin and Olivia already coming through.


“I think it’s very important that as well as identifying and recruiting talented players from outside, we first and foremost look within what we already have at the club and ensure that the platform to progress from the academy into the women’s team is there and that is something we are certainly striving towards.”


Since arriving in Edinburgh, Hearts have gone from strength to strength under Olid’s guidance and the Spaniard has been very open about her aims to challenge the top three and Burt adds that the recruitment will play a big part in that.


“We want to go and challenge the top three,” Burt continued. “That means we have to recruit a better player and our recruitment process in general, needs to be very thorough to deliver that player.


“If you look at the players we recruited in the summer, they were a different calibre of player to those that we have been able to sign in previous windows as it was the first time we’ve been properly trusted with a budget.


“Lizzie Waldie put faith in the club to leave a team that was chasing WSL football to come here, Carly Girasoli is an SWPL winner, Sade Adamolekun is a Jamaican internationalist to name a few.


“That is all down to the fantastic support we’ve been given. The club have been nothing short of fantastic with us. It’s a point I always make when speaking to players and agents, this club has the infrastructure of a WSL club.


“The facilities, the staffing, we are very much one club. Everybody at boardroom level wants the women’s team to do well, whereas perhaps elsewhere that isn’t the case. So, on a personal level and as a collective, I’d like to place on record our thanks on behalf of entire squad for the support Joe Savage and the rest of the club have shown us.”


As the Jambos prepare for the final sprint in the race for fourth spot, Burt is keen to point out the progress that has once again been made this season.


Positive draws against Glasgow City and Celtic for the first time in the club’s history, followed up two draws with Rangers the season before and Partick Thistle stand in the way of Hearts competing at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup semi-finals. 


“Taking points off Celtic and against Glasgow City, we’re one game away from Hampden, what all those things indicate are progress.


“We obviously would love to finish 4th again, but there has still been a huge amount of progress on and off the pitch this season and that is so important in the women’s game.


“I see Hearts as leaders in the women’s game, in terms of the ambition and the drive, the aim is to have Hearts Women on the map and hopefully the sky is the limit for us.”