ON the pitch, goals have become second nature to youth football star Miren McKenna.
But off it, the inspirational nine year old is hoping to hit the target of a very different kind by the time she reaches her tenth birthday.
Miren, who plays for Loanhead Miners FC, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Worster-Drought syndrome and dyskinesia in July 2017 after suffering from hypermobility since birth – causing her movement to be impaired.
However the Celtic fanatic, from Bilston, has continued to play every weekend and has pledged to raise £1,000 to help others affected by the condition before she turns ten in May as part of her #MirensMission campaign.
It has since piqued the interest of some of the highest profile figures in the Scottish women’s game, with the likes of Rachel Corsie and Claire Emslie as well as national team manager Shelly Kerr showing their support on social media.
Mum Carol-Anne, 37, revealed Miren was “completely defiant” after her diagnosis, describing her as a “wee inspiration”.
She said: “I remember when we were in the hospital, she turned to me and said ‘this doesn’t change me mummy, I’m still the same person’.
“She told me she wanted to raise money for the people in the hospital just like her and that £50 would be a lot of money to give them, but we did a bake sale after one of her games and we got double that.”
She continued: “As soon as she knew that, Miren was just determined she was going to do £1,000 before her birthday.”
“And that is just Miren, it doesn’t really matter what you put in her way, she is so absolutely sure of herself that it is really humbling.”
Fellow clubs and parents have stepped up to donate to the campaign, while Miren’s family are in the process of organising a race night in April to help her reach her target.
Miren was inspired to start playing after watching sisters Stephanie, 14, and Kara, 13 and brother Daniel, 11, represent Loanhead at various age groups.
Coach Natalie McDermid, 24, said the Bilston Primary pupil is “an absolute pleasure” to coach, adding the #MirensMission campaign had received nationwide support.
She said: “We’ve had messages of support from players at Liverpool and Bristol City in England too, it is heartwarming to see just how much Miren’s story has really touched so many people across the country.”
“Watching her every week is just inspiring, her conviction not to let anything stand in her way; Every time she steps on the pitch, she just continues to defy everyone’s expectations of what she can do.”
Club secretary Peter Frame, 58, added: “Everyone who comes to watch Miren play has the same reaction, where they think she can’t do it and then she just blows them away.”
“What she is doing is incredible, the smile on her face when you tell her how proud you are of what she has achieved is enough.”