It would be fair to say it has been a whirlwind couple of months for Hibs Ladies full-back and Scotland player Kirsty Smith.
Not only has the 23-year-old had to contend with the pressures of sitting her final-year exams as a student at Heriot-Watt University, she’s also had to keep close tabs on the form of some of Europe’s hottest strikers.
However, if her academic studies are anything to go by – last month she graduated with a first-class honours degree in accounting and finance – there shouldn’t be too much to worry about over the next nine days.
Smith and her team-mates begin their maiden European Championships finals with a mouthwatering Group D opener against England in Utrecht tomorrow, Anna Signuel’s 23-player squad eager to pit their wits against one of the pre-tournament favourites.
And it doesn’t get much easier from there on with Portugal next up for the Scots in Rotterdam, on Sunday, before a final group match encounter with Spain in Deventer next Thursday.
Nevertheless, Smith is ready to give it her all for what she describes as the biggest test of her football career.
“It’s been a great but hectic couple of weeks with me finishing Uni and then having to prepare myself for the Euros,” explained Smith, who is also joined in the squad by Hibs team-mates Joelle Murray and Rachel McLauchlan. “Trying to juggle the two things together has been really difficult these last few months but seeing that the hard work pays off makes it all the worthwhile. I’m glad to have finished my exams and had graduation out the way because you don’t realise how much work you have to get through. To come out with a first was just amazing so I couldn’t be happier with how things went. It’s such a good achievement and I think it’s made me become a better person to be honest which can only help with my football too.”
Smith has been a mainstay of a Hibs team that ran ten-times SWPL 1 champions Glasgow City so close last term. The Hibees, though, did win the Scottish and League Cups last season and also qualified for the Champions League where they were knocked out by German giants Bayern Munich. The left-back has again been instrumental for Chris Roberts’ side so far this season, scoring the opening goal as the Capital outfit retained the League Cup with a 4-1 victory over Celtic in May.
“Things have been going really well recently,” Smith said. “I never imagined being in this position a few years ago. Being part of the national squad that firstly qualified and then being here at the tournament, it’s hard to process. It’s such an amazing feeling. Coming up against some of Europe’s best will be a real challenge but one I can’t wait for. With the three teams we have in our group, it’s going to be really difficult to qualify but it’s a challenge we’re up for. Even when you talk to people about who we’ve drawn they’re always like ‘oh that will be so tough’ but we know that ourselves. We’re going to compete though and just take each game as it comes. We want to show what we can do as a country and make ourselves proud.
“With the teams that we do play it can only help me develop as a player. I’ve got my family over for the games too so it will be great to share the experience with them. But also with the coverage it’s getting on TV, hopefully it can help the women’s game.”