Mascot to star – how Scots girl’s football dream came true

Erin Cuthbert, front row second left, in the Scotland team line-up as a mascot.
Erin Cuthbert, front row second left, in the Scotland team line-up as a mascot.
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When Erin Cuthbert first lined up alongside Scotland’s women’s football team, she wore the strip with pride even though she was only a mascot for the day.

But a decade on, the talented young player is preparing to make history as part of the side’s first tilt at a major championship.

The 18-year-old was still in primary school when she wore the dark blue of Scotland, posing for photographs alongside the likes of Jo Love, then an up and coming midfielder.

Now, Cuthbert will play alongside Love as the Scotland team target glory in the European Championship.

Her story is one of several being captured in a documentary charting the women’s national team’s rise to prominence under manager, Anna Signeul.

As well as looking at the Scottish Football Association’s grassroots programmes, the film follows three members of the senior squad, each at a different stage of their career.

Cuthbert, who signed for Chelsea last year, said the experience so far had been mesmerising.

“Ten years ago, I was a mascot for the team, ” she explained. “I can’t believe I’m now part of this squad going to the Euros with Jo and everyone else. I’m delighted and very proud and it’s going to be really emotional, but we’re competitive and we want to do well.”

While Cuthbert has hopes of making a successful living from the game, some of her colleagues have to juggle their sporting careers with full-time employment.

They include Love, a 31-year-old stalwart of Glasgow City who works as a laboratory scientist.

Having won her first cap in a 3-0 defeat to Canada in 2002, she says the prospect of representing her country at the Euros is the realisation of a lifelong ambition.

Love, who is now Scotland’s most capped outfield player, with 175 appearances, said: “I’ve been waiting for years to get to a major tournament with Scotland so I feel relief that it’s finally happened but also proud to be part of this.

“There were times when I thought the dream might have been over for me, but we worked really hard and have come together stronger in the end as a squad.”

She added: “If I can inspire one girl to pick up a football and kick it around the back garden, I’ll be delighted.”

Another key member of the squad, Lisa Evans, recently signed for Arsenal, having played for Bayern Munich.

She said pulling on the Scotland shirt at a major finals promises to be “even better” than playing in the Champions League with the German club.

The documentary crew is already in the Netherlands as Scotland prepare for their first Euro 2017 group stage match against England in Utrecht on Wednesday.

Alan de Pellete, the director of the film, said: “In the year that the national team will be attracting huge interest in women’s football through Euro 2017, this inspirational documentary aims to level the playing field in the national conversation about football and inspire a new generation of girls to take up the game.”

The film, a co-production by Matchlight Productions and Aficionado Films, is to be broadcast on BBC Alba in September.