I moved to Scotland just over 3 years ago to study at Edinburgh University, up until that point my knowledge and experience of Scotland extended only as far as 3 trips up to the Edinburgh International Korfball Tournament during my time at Lancaster University.
I look back on my time growing up in England and reflect that I didn’t really know Scotland existed. I realised that there was a different country of sorts, if you went a bit further than Carlisle but I didn’t give much thought to anything above and beyond that. A friend from school used to go on holiday to Fort William every year and it took me a while to work out that was actually in Scotland. Even recently I had a conversation with my brother who didn’t know Scotland had its own Parliament and Government. That’s not a slight on my brother by the way, I didn’t either until I moved here, I guess what I’m trying to say is Scotland is pretty cool and I don’t think enough people know it.
So, getting back on track, the point of this blog entry is to give our fans and our European opponents (soon to be friends) a bit of an insight into why I love Scotland, and why I am incredibly proud to be part of the Mavericks squad representing Scotland at the Europa Cup in January.
I was born and grew up in England, my family is Northern Irish. However I never really identified with being English or British for that matter. I would tick the British box on forms etc. but was always more inclined to tell people about my Northern Irish heritage. However, after three years I can say that not only am I officially a Scottish resident but in my heart I also feel well and truly Scottish. There is something about Scotland, its culture and its people who welcome you with open arms, that gives you a sense of belonging I think is hard to find elsewhere. I had this same experience joining the Mavericks, Scotland is now my home and the Mavericks my korfball family, yes you may cringe but it’s all true.
Scotland is a wonderful, progressive, beautiful country, rich in history and heritage. University education is free for young Scottish people and it is likely 16 & 17 year olds will be given the vote at the next general election. A few weeks ago Scotland got its first female First Minister who’s first decision was to install a Cabinet with a 50/50 gender split. As a korfballer (and a woman) I think this is an incredible step forwards, gender equality in sport, gender equality in politics? Next up the world!!!!!!!
As I was cycling home last night thinking about writing this I got a little choked up. It may have been the wind in my eyes, it may have been the blur of the Christmas lights but I’m pretty sure it was because I was thinking about why I love Scotland (and humming Caledonia).
The 5 million people in Scotland recently shook the UK establishment to its core just by holding a democratic referendum. Scotland is a fiercely proud nation and although we are small we are mighty, the Mavericks are one of the smallest clubs in the Europa Cup competition, but we are passionate and we are determined and we intend to show it!
So, if you’ve never been to Scotland, come, visit, you might even fall in love with this majestic land and end up staying. And if you do, come and play korfball with the Mavericks, we’ll make you feel right at home. And for those of you at Europa Cup (or the millions watching on YouTube) if you see me gently weeping to Oh Flower of Scotland give me a wave (and maybe a tissue).
Written by Nicki Wray