A DUNS hockey player has shone on the national stage, scoring two goals for Scotland in a 3-3 draw against Wales.
Berwickshire High School pupil Nicola Wealleans netted twice in the game at Largs on April 24.
“It was a great experience to play for my national squad, and to score as well was just amazing,” she told The Berwickshire News.
Nicola, a member of the Border Fjordhus Hockey Club, captains the South of Scotland under 16 hockey team as well as playing for the Berwickshire High School first XI.
She put herself in contention for a national call-up when she was selected for a Scotland trial back in November.
It was an on-going proccess and trialists were then given a fitness programme to follow over Christmas before they met up again at the end of January for selectors to assess their progress.
“We had to do around four sessions a week,” Nicola said. “I did a lot of it in the gymn so luckily the weather didn’t affect the training too much and I did notice a difference in my fitness because of the programme.”
But despite her hard work, a place in the under 16 squad still wasn’t guaranteed.
The squad was then cut to a final training squad of 30, which trained intensively, both individually and as a squad when they came together to train all over Scotland most Sundays.
The first matches for the new-look Scotland under 16 girls squad were arranged for April 23-24 against Wales, and the training squad was brutally cut almost in half the weekend before the matches, the squad shrinking from 30 to the elite 18.
“I was nervous about whether I’d make it or not at that point!” Nicola admitted.
But she made the grade and turned out in the Scotland colours the following weekend.
Three games were played against Wales, with Scotland losing the first two 3-0 and 3-1. But they learned from their losses and battled hard in the third game to share the honours with their hosts, scoring three goals a-piece, with Nicola bagging two of Scotland’s three.
“It’s a different standard from school and things, but because we’d been training together for so long it didn’t feel like too much of a step up,” she said.
“I managed to score two goals from penalty corner situations in the 3-3 game. As a defender I hadn’t expected to score, so it was a nice surprise! It made it seem like all my hard work on fitness and skills over the winter had paid off.
“We were a bit more settled by the third game and showed more of what we can do” she added.
Having now played among the elite, Nicola is hoping to build on her impressive performance at Largs and become an established member of the Scotland squad.
She said: “We’re going to meet up as a training squad again where selection will be made for further tournaments against England this month and the four nations in Germany in June.”