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Lynsey Gallagher: “There shouldn’t be a barrier between you being able to succeed as a professional and in your sport”

Lynsey Gallagher has suffered a knee injury which means Sarah MacPhail has been elevated to the Strathclyde Sirens squad

Like most Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) athletes, Lynsey Gallagher balances two demanding careers: her life as an elite netball player with her job as a primary school teacher.

“It’s been extremely challenging. I’m so ready to get back in the classroom!” she laughs as she reflects on the difficulties of Zoom teaching.

The Sirens shooter understands the power the VNSL has had in an otherwise tough year.

“After going through such a horrendous year, the start-up of the Superleague again has brought a smile to lots of people’s faces.

“I think having the netball there to watch on the television and seeing how well the Sirens are doing has been really important – I think girls and women in Scotland are just really keen to get get out and get on the netball courts again.”

Although balancing two careers might be difficult, Gallagher finds that combining the two helps her mentally.

“You can have hard days at work but then going to netball and seeing all the girls is a bit of escapism and vice versa. I like doing a job that’s obviously different to netball because if you have injuries, if you’re not playing as well or you’ve come off the back of a defeat, you can go away and take your mind off it.”

She credits the teams at both Sirens and her school with supporting her to balance the two.

“There shouldn’t be a barrier to you being able to succeed as a professional and succeed within your sport. I know within my squad, we’ve got teachers, we’ve got a solicitor, university students, optometrists… Don’t get me wrong, you have to be organised and you might miss out on things, but if it’s really something that you want to do then the two can be balanced well.”

“I think we’re obviously supported amazingly by the management team and by the Scottish Institute of Sport. Over the years it’s increasingly become easier to find that balance. My headteacher at my school is also really supportive and I think having the backing of those people behind you makes balancing the two much easier.”

Strathclyde Sirens sit at fifth in the VNSL league table after winning three of their three opening games: a feat which Lynsey credits to their impressive work rate.

“I think we’re just a very hard-working, determined bunch of girls who know there’s so much potential there. It’s about bringing together the strengths of all these players because as a team, we bring so many different things.”

“I don’t think you will find a team that works as hard as us. We know sometimes we might not be the biggest or the tallest, but we’ve certainly got other tools in the toolkit.”

Despite suffering an injury in round two, Lynsey is staying positive and still has an active role within the team.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back out there on court. It’s obviously hard watching from the sidelines, especially when the girls are doing so well and you just want to be involved. But for me, it’s just about making sure that I’m fit and ready to get back on court when the time is right. Whether it’s on court or off the court, I’m there behind the girls 110% because we want to end up as high up the table as possible.”

On the subject of International Women’s Day, Lynsey is a firm believer in the power of the positive role models in the VNSL.

“I think with social media as it now, there’s a lot of pressure on girls and women to be a certain way. As individuals within the VNSL, we are strong, we are powerful, we are fierce, we’re competitive… hopefully we can show that the sky is the limit and there should be no barriers to reaching your potential.”

“If you look at the league, it doesn’t matter if you’re tall, if you’re short or if you’re the strongest one out there on court. Everybody’s different but everybody brings their own bit of the spice to the equation.”

International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March 2021 with the campaign theme of #ChooseToChallenge. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

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