Northern Ireland Women vs Luxembourg: Kerry Beattie puts university on hold to chase Euro dream
Northern Ireland youngster Kerry Beattie says she has put college education on hold to chase her Euro dream.
The Glentoran striker completed her A-Levels in the summer and was due to start university this month to begin studies in sport and exercise science.
But the 18-year-old has decided to take a gap year as she plots her footballing course over the next 10 months.
Beattie - who made her Northern Ireland debut in June's friendly defeat to Scotland - wants to be in Kenny Shiels' squad for next summer's European Championship finals.
And after being named in Shiels' squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Luxembourg and Latvia, the Glens teenager is determined to seize her chance.
Beattie said: "Thinking ahead, the Euro finals are a massive part of what we are doing, going forward.
"For me, I was supposed to be going to university but I have decided to take a year out to focus on trying to get into that squad.
"But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. We are only looking ahead to our next match, not next July."
Beattie added: "I was going to study sport and exercise science, and do a PGCE and hopefully be a PE teacher. But that's all on hold.
"Luckily, I am in a position where I have just finished my A-Levels and can take a year out. I am quite young.
"So it actually came at a really good time for me.
"I would never throw my eggs in one basket and be left thinking 'what if?'. So education is very important to me and I will go to university after this gap year."
After making her debut against Scotland this summer, Beattie is hoping to earn more game time in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg at Inver Park.
Northern Ireland then take on Latvia at Windsor Park on Tuesday.
"I can't wait for the two games," Beattie added.
"Every time I get the call it is always a big honour for me, and everyone is looking forward to it.
"It is maybe a chance for me to step up with Simone Magill unfortunately not in the squad. But I have to take my chance."
Reflecting on her debut against Scotland back in June, Beattie said: "It was obviously great to make my debut at home.
"I had been involved in the squad since September and I was waiting for my opportunity, and I was fortunate to do it at home in front of my family.
"So it was definitely worth the wait. I managed to get on and put in a good shift, so I really enjoyed it.
"There's definitely a massive sense of belief within the squad, and everyone is really positive.
"And we have a really good team. We are like best friends, and that translates onto the pitch. We have a good chemistry on the pitch."