Napier student McLauchlan taking it all in at Women’s Euro 201721 July 2017
The 23 Scottish footballers competing at the Women’s Euro 2017 finals in the Netherlands have been described by head coach Anna Signeul as “a strong squad with a great mix of youth and experience.”
The second youngest player in the Scotland squad, with just four caps to her name so far, is 20-year-old Edinburgh Napier University student, Rachel McLauchlan.
“We were all delighted to be picked and it’s brilliant being involved at a major championship,” said defender McLauchlan, who like the rest of the team, is looking to bounce back in the final group match against Spain (Thursday 27 July) following disappointing defeats to England and Portugal.
“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 championships final 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 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 to the mix means McLauchlan, who begins year three of BSC Sport and Exercise Science in September, 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.
Eighteen Scottish universities and 25 colleges form the Winning Students network. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
“Napier University and Winning Students are a massive help,” said McLauchlan.
“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.
“It’s about having that communication with people and letting them know what you’ve got coming up.
“You have to make sure you are really organised to make sure you are on top of everything, to be one step ahead and being part of Winning Students really helps me do that.”
McLauchlan is joined in the Netherlands by fellow Winning Students scholars Erin Cuthbert (Open University in Scotland) and Kirsty Smith (Heriot-Watt University) with Cuthbert getting on the scoresheet against Portugal. The trio, along with their teammates, are now preparing for their final group match against Spain on Thursday 27 July (Live on More4, 7.45pm).