Help make my girl a Gooner
Former Linwood man appeals for sponsors to help fund young starlet's 'dream move'
AFTER leading Celtic to under-17 Scottish Cup glory, earning 18 caps for Scotland at under-15 and 17 level, Leigh Nicol has now netted herself a move to Arsenal.
The 16-year-old is widely regarded as one of the brightest young players in the UK and has been tipped to reach the top of women's football.
However, after landing her dream move to one of the best women's sides in the World, the midfielder's career at the Gunners could be cut short due to a lack of funding.
Nicol requires a total of £11,000 over two years to stay at the club for residential and education fees, however she is ineligible for funding from the English student awards agency. They require students to have lived in England for a minimum of three years.
The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (commonly known as SAAS) are also unable to fund the youngster as she is attending college rather than university.
Now, father Duncan, who starred for amateur side Cardross Rock FC, is appealing for local businesses and residents to help make his daughter's dream a reality.
He said: "It came to a point in Leigh's career that we had to discuss her options as Celtic could take her no further.
"I asked her what she had wanted to do, and she said she had always wanted to have a go at Arsenal.
"We applied online and the trials were four weeks later, so she got invited.
"There were three trials, but by the second they had seen enough so she didn't have to go down for the third.
"She got invited down for the final trials at the Arsenal men's training ground. Laura Harvie, the women's first-team coach pulled Leigh aside and indicated she would be picked.
"She was only one player that was pulled aside and spoken to, which was a great sign. Weeks later, she got the offer and that was it."
However, Nicol's dream could be shattered due to the high living costs and college fees.
Her dad Duncan agonised and said: "It is terrible there is an obstacle like this in the way.
"In terms of getting sponsorship, it has been tough.
"There has been next to nothing that has come our way yet and there is no way we can raise that kind of money on our own.
"The family and friends have been helping us through sponsorships and chapping doors, so that has been great.
"I am not expecting anyone to offer all the money, but if someone could help in any way shape or form, it would be most helpful and help make my daughter's dream a reality.
"If there is anyone that would be prepared to help Leigh that would be fantastic. And if there is anything we could do in terms of business promotion, we would do so.
"Hopefully she will go on to do well in the game and we will never forget those who helped us.
"She is a fantastic prospect in the game and she has been told she can go very far."
Ahead of boarding the plane to London, Nicol revealed her heartache that this golden chance could be snatched away from her.
She added: "It is heartbreaking because I don't know until I have the funding if I am actually there.
"I have my heart set on it and it is my dream, but I don't know if it will happen.
"There were 800 applicants and I was surprised to get called back.
"When I got offered a place I was delighted as it was always a dream, but I never thought it would come true.
"I now have the opportunity, so it would be heartbreaking for it to disappear. I am so lucky that my dad has put in the work and commitment to give me this opportunity.
"It just hurts me that he is doing so much to help get this funding, but there is nothing more we can do.
"He is willing to make my dream come true, words can't describe what that means to me and I just hope there is someone out there who can also help me."
If you wish to sponsor Leigh or donate money to help the youngster fund her move, you can contact us at email@example.com
Alternatively you can contact her dad Duncan on 07877527681 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in The Gazette 06 Sep 12