Before the tournament officially kicked off, Caroline Weir took part in a promotional skills challenge. Up against England’s Fara Williams, Scotland’s Women’s Player of the Year attempted keepie-uppies in clogs and focused her attentions on trying to hit various Dutch cheeses hanging from the crossbar.
It was all a bit of pre-competition fun, and Weir came out on top, but then the players and their respective team-mates took to the pitch on Wednesday and things got very real, very quickly.
Making their debut at a major championships, minus several key players who helped them qualify, against one of the favourites, who also happen to be the Auld Enemy, the match was never going to be easy. But they had hoped that it would not prove as damaging as it did.
“It was unbelieveable. I had a lot of friends and family there and walking out there, hearing the anthem, it was something we have all been thinking about for a long time. Everything about that lived up to the dream. There were so many Scotland fans there and it was a lot to take in but we tried to enjoy it and soak all that side of things up. It was a dream come true to be playing for Scotland at a major tournament.”
The scoreline became a bit of a nightmare, with Scotland contributing to their own downfall and the embarrassing 6-0 drubbing but while they may be new to the Euro stage, they are not blind to the opportunities the competition’s tight schedule affords them.
“We knew it would be a tough challenge from the outset but we were obviously disappointed to concede six goals,” said the 22-year-old midfielder. “But we still have a lot to play for and we are excited to play the next two games.
“We have analysed some of the game and it wasn’t good enough. We know we need to do better in certain areas but that is the good thing about tournament football, we get to go back out there after just a few days and try to put things right. We will be determined to put on a better performance and get the result.”
Tonight they face Portugal in the second of their three group matches, with Spain to come on Thursday. This evening’s opponents are also looking for a win to get off the mark after they also lost their opener, but Liverpool’s Weir, who was the club Fan’s Player of the Year last season, believes that Anna Signeul’s side can bounce back and get the victory needed to keep their ambition of progressing from the group stages alive.
“It is definitely winnable. That’s how we see it. But we know it is not going to be an easy task. Again, they are a top team so no game is going to be easy out here but we believe we can go and compete with them. The Portugal game is a really good game for us. We need a result from it and we are determined and believe we can go and do that.
“We have watched clips and we hopefully know what to expect. I think overall they are a strong team, they are good going forward. We know some of the players in the team; they are players we have played against and with. We know some individuals better than others. We know they have weaknesses as well as strengths.”
Despite the resounding thumping dished out by his side in the first game, England coach Mark Sampson has backed Scotland to find their feet and join them in making it through to the knock-out phase of the contest. Weir does not believe that the occasion of the first game got to them, insisting that other than increased media attention they remain closed off from the outside world and the expectations of fans. But she is pleased that some of the hype that attached itself to their tournament opener, against the Auld Enemy, will probably be absent for the next two games.
“We are just focused on the Portugal game just now. We said from day one that we are taking it one game at a time and we won’t look too far ahead. But we want to bounce back and put on a decent performance and show what we are about.
“I think England played pretty well, to be fair, and, unfortunately, the game didn’t go our way. But I think we have all adjusted really well. The lead up to the tournament was really enjoyable and, with this being our first major championships we want to enjoy every moment of it. We have wanted it to happen for so many years and now that it has come about we are trying to take it all in. I think it’s great for Scottish football and women’s football that it is getting the publicity but it is also good that we are in a bit of a bubble. We have to focus on the games. That’s ultimately what we are here for.” Caroline Weir is helping McDonald’s celebrate 15 years of its Community Football Programme and its longstanding commitment to inclusivity. For more information on McDonald’s support of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017™ visit mcdonalds.co.uk/womenseuro