A university student hopes to make football history as part of the Scotland team taking on Spain in Women’s Euro 2017.
Rachel taking it all in at Scotland’s first major championship finals
Rachel McLauchlan, who will shortly begin the third year of a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science, is the second youngest player in the Scotland squad for the tournament in the Netherlands.
She made the starting line-up for the 2-1 defeat against Portugal which followed a 6-0 thrashing by England in the opening game.
Now she is hoping to retain her place for Thursday’s showdown with Spain, which the Scots need to win by two goals and hope for a favour from England in the other game, if they are to defy the odds and qualify for the quarter finals.
Rachel, 20, had four caps to her name going into the tournament, Scotland’s first appearance in a major finals.
She said: “We were all delighted to be picked and it’s brilliant being involved at a major championship. It’s a massive experience going away at such a young age and I’m learning a lot out here.
“Obviously we’re not happy with the first two results, but everyone is still really up for it and preparing well (for the Spain game) so we’ll see what happens.”
That Women’s Euro 2017 is Scotland’s first ever major championship finals is both a sign of the game’s growing popularity and the commitment of the country’s top players.
“Football has grown and grown and more people are getting involved,” said defender McLauchlan, who recently helped Hibernian Ladies to a 4-1 win over Celtic to lift the SWPL Cup for the second successive year.
“Being away for a month is big learning curve and the fact Channel 4 is covering the tournament, so people can watch, is helping hugely.
“To get here though, you have to put the work in. As part of the National Performance Academy at Heriot Watt we train every morning at seven o’clock and I train once on Monday and Wednesday, doubles on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and then we have a game on Sunday.”
Adding full-time study at Edinburgh Napier to the mix means Rachel has to manage her time with maximum efficiency.
As one of 150 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes, she receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
“Edinburgh Napier and Winning Students are a massive help,” said Rachel.
“Winning Students helps fund my travel and recently they sent me new kit, which all adds up and makes a big difference.
“The university gives me flexibility and fully understands if I explain I need to go away with Scotland, they can reschedule tests to fit around my playing commitments.”