Children prepare to watch Scotland v Czech Republic in schools

By Catherine Lyst
BBC Scotland news website

image captionPoppy told her head teacher that watching the Scotland game would inspire pupils to achieve their dreams

As the delayed Euro 2020 championship is about to get under way, anticipation is building across the country as Scotland embarks on its first major tournament in 23 years.

Children and teenagers have never before experienced the thrill of watching their national team compete in a major finals.

And after such a challenging time during the past 15 months, with so much time at home and unable to see their friends during lockdown, some are now being given the opportunity to celebrate - or commiserate - with their classmates.

This is because many schools across Scotland are embracing the tournament and allowing their pupils to watch some of the games. Children are being encouraged to come into school in Scotland tops, bunting is being put up and lessons are being tailored to the tournament.

One 10-year-old pupil from St Stephen's Primary School in Clydebank persuaded her school to let pupils watch the Scotland games after writing to the head teacher who then carried out a favourable online poll.

'Imagine the smiles on our beautiful faces'

In the letter, Poppy argued that the matches were "more than just a game" and would inspire her classmates to achieve their dreams.

"Imagine the smiles on our beautiful faces if Scotland scored a goal," she wrote. "It is part of our culture and would show that we are true Scots."

Scotland midfielder John McGinn heard about Poppy's "amazing letter" and tweeted his support. Then after hearing of her victory, he tweeted a special video message to congratulate her.

"A big congratulations to Poppy," he said. "It's amazing for us to read that we can inspire so many people. Stick to your dreams, keep working for it - you never know what's possible."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Poppy told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme: "My dad had been telling me about when he was in Primary 6 he got to watch the World Cup and I thought that would be a really fun idea, especially getting to watch it with all my classmates."

After initially speaking to her head teacher, Poppy decided to write a letter.

"I actually called it the Eurovision Song Contest so I think she was convinced that I wasn't the best football fan," she said.

Poppy said that after seeing a note from the teacher that said "It's a yes", she and her friends started screaming.

"We were so hyper and happy," she said. "We just started to run about the playground. We were elated."

'A momentous national event'

Pupils and staff at Broomhill Primary School in Glasgow will also be watching the game on Monday after a plea from two of the boys there a few weeks ago.

Lessons before the game will also be linked to the Euros, with children learning about the countries involved, the history of the tournament and designing football kits.

Head teacher Wendy Cameron said: "Two of the boys came up to me rather nervously with a very impassioned plea to watch the first half in school and I said yes straight away. It's such a momentous national event and the youngsters are not going to be focused on learning that afternoon anyway - they will be thinking of the game.

"When I was at school, we got to watch Ally's Army and it is a vivid memory of primary school. The overwhelming majority of children are really excited about it."

image copyrightBroomhill Primary
image captionAaron (second left) and Roman (middle) asked the head at Broomhill Primary School if they could watch the Scotland game

Due to Covid rules, the whole of Broomhill Primary will be unable to watch the game together in the school hall but will all be watching in their classrooms. Bunting has been put up in some corridors.

The two boys who originally made the request to watch the game, Roman and Aaron, have made a pre-match commentary video - explaining what the Euros are - which will be shown in school sometime before the game.

Roman said: "Imagine all this planning and Scotland lose - that can't happen."

One of the P4 girls from Broomhill, eight-year-old Beau, plays for Drumchapel United and has been chosen as one of the 22 mascots when Scotland play Croatia on 22 June. She will meet all the players and go out onto the Hampden pitch with one of them.

image copyrightBroomhill Primary
image captionEight-year-old Beau will be one of the mascots for the Scotland v Croatia game on the 22 June

"I can't wait to be a mascot and watch my national team play in the Euros," she said. "I hope I bring them some luck."

Western Isles local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, is allowing all of its schools to watch the game against the Czech Republic on Monday.

A council spokesman told BBC Scotland: "It was a really easy decision for us. It will be up to head teachers themselves to make a decision for their own school.

"It's obviously been a long time since we featured in a major tournament and, after what's been a really challenging year for the pupils and teachers alike, we thought it might give them a lift to roar the boys on to success on Monday.

"The children are really excited. They're really embracing it and looking forward to it and hopefully it will be a memorable day."

'It's a valid learning experience'

Scott, a pupil at the Castlebay Community High School on the Isle of Barra, said: "It'll be such a great experience to watch it live, not just the highlights, in school with my friends."

Another pupil, Erlend, said: "It's the first time I've ever seen Scotland play at an international tournament. It'll be good to watch in school as we can watch it live with the rest of Scotland."

Renfrew High School, which is an SFA School of Football, will also be watching the game. Head teacher Billy Burke told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It wasn't much of a dilemma for us. We have strong links with the Scottish national team.

"I listened to my young people, listened to staff, who felt that whether they're a football fan or not, it's a very unique occasion.

"None of our young people were alive when Scotland last played in a major finals. It's a valid learning experience. There's been not enough fun in the year, let's be honest. We've missed out on some of the normal activities that build community and enjoyment.

"We're going to show the match, It's a dress-as-you-please day, we're raising money for charity. Scotland strips are encouraged, but not compulsory."