Winning Students


Smith is up for the European challenge for club and country

2 September 2016
Kirsty Smith (left) is relishing the opportunity of European adventures for Hibernian and Scotland

Kirsty Smith (left) is relishing the opportunity of European adventures for Hibernian and Scotland

Having helped Hibernian Ladies win a place in the Champions League, Heriot- Watt University’s Kirsty Smith is looking forward to the challenge of facing Bayern Munich in the opening round of the knockout draw.

“Bayern Munich are obviously the German champions, so it will be a hard game but regardless of who we got it was always going to be hard,” said the Dalkeith 22-year-old after the draw was made on Thursday.

“It will be a good challenge and a great experience for us to play a really good side.”

Smith has been a stalwart of the Hibs defence this season and part of the team which broke champions Glasgow City’s streak of tournament wins in Scotland to capture the SWPL Cup.

“It was such an amazing experience to win the League Cup,” said Smith.  “Glasgow City have been up there and dominating, so it was just great to win the way that we did.  It just shows that all the hard work has been worthwhile.”

At the same time as helping Hibs to silverware, Smith has played her part in Scotland’s so far successful UEFA Women’s European Championship Qualifiers campaign.

She has been part of the squad for all seven group matches so far, and she hopes to be selected for the team’s final and crucial match of the qualifying stages later this month. Scotland travel to group leaders Iceland on 20 September for a game which will determine their place in next year’s European Championships.

“Iceland will be a challenge but hopefully the team can show their potential against them,” she said. 

Although there are too many variables to make things clear cut, a win would simplify things for Scotland and should mean they can avoid the play offs.

“There are certain scenarios that would allow us to qualify,” continued Smith.  “But ultimately the team just want to get the win and the three points to finish on a high.

“I have been involved with the squad for all the games, although I have not played every game.  I don’t know what my chances will be to play in the Iceland game but I’d be really happy if I was in the squad again.”

Smith’s improvements over the past two seasons are nothing short of dramatic.  And she has achieved everything on the pitch whilst studying a full time BAcc Accountancy and Finance degree at Heriot-Watt University.

She is one of 148 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes.

Through the programme 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.

“University is demanding but it is really rewarding doing the two alongside each other,” admits Smith.  “I’m studying full time so we train morning, then I have university classes in the day, then I’ll train again at night.

“I’ve made so much progress having been involved with the academy and making the most of the resources they provide.  It’s benefitted me not just on the pitch but as a person. 

“The university is really understanding, and if I have to travel away they will always try and work round it. 

“And having Winning Students behind me really helps pay for accommodation, equipment and travel. Doing the amount I do on and off the pitch means I don’t have time to have a job as well, so the support and resources they offer are a great help.”