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Home crowd an advantage - Kirsty
 Women's Football News 4 Apr 2013
 
Edinburgh College student Kirsty Smith is full of confidence ahead of the UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship elite round qualifiers, which kick off in Livingston tonight, after getting on the scoresheet in a recent win over Italy. 
 
The Sport Diploma student from Dalkeith netted direct from a corner kick during a 7-3 win at a tournament in La Manga last month.
 
Kirsty was one of five students supported by national sports scholarships Winning Students competing in La Manga, along with fellow Edinburgh College student and Scotland captain Siobhan Hunter and the University of Stirling trio of Chloe Arthur, Megan Cunningham and Heather Richards.
 
The Hibernian midfielder said: "It wasn't part of a training move and probably was as much down to the wind as anything else. I was just focused on getting it to the back post with enough in swing on it and I couldn't tell if someone had touched it, but then I realised it was my goal."
 
As well as the win over Italy, Scotland recoded a 4-4 draw with Iceland and a 2-1 win over England in La Manga.
 
Scotland host Denmark on Thursday 4th April, Ukraine two days later, and finally Austria on Tuesday 9th April as they bid to qualify for the finals in Wales this August. Scotland previously reached the Women's Under-19 Championship finals in France in 2008 and Macedonia in 2010.
 
Kirsty said: "We learned a lot as a team from the three games in La Manga as they were each very different. To come back to draw against Iceland after being 3-1 down showed character and we believe we have the qualities to qualify for the finals.
 
"We have a good group of players who all work hard together. We can score a few goals from different areas and we're generally a solid defensive unit.
 
"I've never qualified for the finals before, and this is my last opportunity as next year I'll be too old. There are a few of us in a similar position so it'd be a nice way to finish. The matches are in Scotland so we have an advantage, with our friends and family there supporting us."
 
Kirsty hopes to progress to the Scotland A squad and is also looking forward to going to University in September, having made the most of her college course. She said: "It has been really interesting - you learn about athletes and how to look after your body. I really like the anatomy and physiology modules even though they are probably the toughest ones. When I am training now I can see the difference and understand how the sessions are improving me."
 
Winning Students currently supports more than 150 talented athletes across 31 Scottish colleges and universities, providing funding support and academic flexibility.
 
Scholarship funding has helped establish the Scottish FA Women's National Performance Centre, based on campus at the University of Stirling.
 
(www.scottishfa.co.uk)

 
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