Pro dream becomes reality for Winning Students footballers20 December 2019
Two Winning Students football scholars have achieved lifelong ambitions after signing their first professional contracts.
Jamie-Lee Napier (Edinburgh College) and Cailin Michie (University of Edinburgh) are products of the Scottish FA National Performance Centre which is the first of its kind for women’s football in Scotland. Based at Oriam at Heriot-Watt University, the Centre was established in 2009 and is funded in partnership by Winning Students, the Scottish FA and the university.
Napier, who was named the Scottish Women’s Premier League Player of the Year after an outstanding season, has signed for Chelsea FC from Hibernian Ladies and will compete in the FA Women's Super League alongside some of the world’s best players.
The 19-year-old will join former Winning Students scholar, and Scotland World Cup star, Erin Cuthbert in London and she is excited by the opportunity. "It feels amazing to be a Chelsea player and I'm delighted to sign my first professional contract," she told Chelsea's website.
"From a young girl, it's been a dream and an aspiration of mine, so I'm delighted that I've finally done it with such a successful club like Chelsea.
“I’d like to thank Oriam, Winning Students, Heriot-Watt University and the Scottish FA for providing the national performance academy which has only helped benefit me as a player and a person and helped take me on to the next step of my career.”
Napier’s former Hibernian teammate, Michie, is also moving into the professional ranks after joining Swedish side Pitea IF DFF, the 2018 Damallsvenskan League Champions.
Michie has been in the Winning Students programme since 2016
Michie’s performances, including scoring the winning penalty in Hibernian’s 2019 SWPL Cup Final victory, have caught the attention of clubs across the continent and the politics student is relishing the challenge of going full-time. She said: “I look forward to the opportunity ahead but of course will miss the fantastic people and environment created for me by Hibs. I wish them all the best with their season to come.
“I also want to say a massive thank you to Winning Students, the Scottish FA, Heriot-Watt University and Oriam for providing the national performance academy setup that allowed me to develop and make this next step in my career.”
Napier and Michie are just the latest in a long line of Winning Students scholars to have advanced their football careers as part of the National Performance Centre, with 12 former scholars and Centre athletes competing for the Scotland Women’s National Team at its first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup this past summer in France.