A nursing graduate from Falkirk has shown she has the golden touch on the rugby field and the healing touch on the wards.
Leia Glading was part of the Scotland Mixed Open team that came third in the Touch Rugby World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, adding to the gold medal she collected when the side triumphed at last year’s European Championships.
The 21-year-old also recently completed her BSc in Adult Nursing at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences in Kirkcaldy, just months after collecting her latest medal.
While working in hospitals can be a pressure cooker environment, Leia said that she and her teammates had to undertake special training to ready themselves for the heat of Malaysia.
“We had been preparing for a year since we won gold at the European Championships,” she said.
“Because of the humidity we had been doing things like hot yoga to help us acclimatise.
“We were also doing heat chamber sessions and after a couple of warm-up games out there we felt really good.
“The tournament took place over a week and on one of the days the humidity meant that it felt like it was 51°C.
“We were all incredibly sweaty but our training meant that we adjusted really well and that fed in to our performances.”
Scotland won ten games in total, losing only to eventual champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand.
They did, however, make a small piece of history by becoming the first European nation to medal at Mixed Open level – where men and women play alongside one another – defeating Samoa in the third-place playoff.
Leia was first introduced to touch while at school and within a year was involved with the Scotland women’s team.
For the past three years she has juggled her studies with training and playing commitments, but while her career in touch is now in its sixth year her ambition to become a nurse has been nurtured for longer still.
“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” she said, “my mum was a mental health nurse and I have always found the profession to be full of inspirational people.
“Studying at Kirkcaldy has been amazing and I’ve had great support from the staff throughout my academic studies.
“The campus is really close-knit and all of the students from across the years get to know each other and share their experiences.
“I’ve had some brilliant opportunities while studying here. One of the standouts was a placement that I had with the theatre team.
“I really enjoyed getting to see the work done there up close and it gave me the desire to take that further when I graduated.
“I am incredibly fortunate now because I have a job lined up in theatre at Queen Margaret Hospital and I can’t wait to get started.”
With her three-year course having now concluded, Leia is preparing to head off to Tanzania, where she will work as a volunteer nurse before taking up her post in Dunfermline in January.
Insisting that the skills she has learned both on campus and the rugby field will stand her in good stead for her future career, she added, “I’m sad that my time studying at Kirkcaldy is coming to an end but I feel ready to start my job thanks to the training I have received here.
“I’ll still play touch when I start my job. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world and I’ve been fortunate to travel and meet a lot of people.
“If anything, playing touch has helped me in my training to become a nurse.
“I don’t get nervous when I play and I feel as though I thrive under pressure, so I like to think that will help me now that I have graduated.”