When Sarah MacPhail takes to the court for Team Scotland, she will be taking a little piece of her Orkney home with her.
MacPhail grew up in Kirkwall, excelling in both athletics and netball before relocating to Aberdeen as a teenager to pursue her sporting career.
But all the miles travelled over the years have been worth it, to elevate her to the status of a Commonwealth Games athlete.
She never once felt disadvantaged because of Orkney’s distance from the central hubs of the mainland, maximising the facilities available to her and being grateful for the backing she has received on her journey.
MacPhail will appreciate every last message of support as she enters the Team Scotland camp and prepares to live her Commonwealth dream.
“Being part of the island community and being able to do a number of different sports was amazing,” she said. “I was doing athletics and netball but my passion for netball continued to grow.
“I was selected to join the Aberdeen north district pathway at 14-15 and that was what introduced me to the bigger world of netball, outside my small community.
“I followed the typical Netball Scotland pathway after that, which I’m very grateful for. I was selected for under-17s and captained the under-21s, before joining up with the Thistles squad.
“My mum always tells me I had aspirations of getting to the Games. How can it not be your goal as a young athlete to get there?
“I’m very grateful for my upbringing and being part of that small community. Even now, I get hundreds of messages of support and it’s overwhelming.
Name: Sarah MacPhail
Home town: Kirkwall
Previous CG experience: None
“All the camps were in Aberdeen or Glasgow, so I had help from my coaches, my parents and I travelled myself down to these big cities from a young age.
“I’m grateful for that because it fueled my love for the sport. When you make that extra journey to get somewhere it makes things a bit more special.”
The Games being in Birmingham means it is a little easier for loved ones to be in attendance. Scotland start their campaign against world number one-ranked Australia and also have Jamaica, South Africa, Wales and Barbados in their group.
“My mum and dad will be coming down and hopefully one or two others. It’s so great that it’s being televised, as increased media support for women’s sport is so important.
“I know those people who won’t be able to make the journey will still be supporting me, through social media and watching me on TV.
“I went to the Netball World Cup in Liverpool (in 2019) and it had a home-Games atmosphere, because everyone was there to support the teams from the United Kingdom.”
Being a multi-sport athlete when she was younger meant a wide pool of potential role models.
However, being able to play alongside one of them, Team Scotland netball captain Claire Maxwell, has fulfilled a big ambition.
“It varied depending on who was on TV at the time. With athletics, it was Jessica Ennis-Hill and those kinds of people.
“Thereafter when I started to play netball, it was Claire. From a young age, I thought she was the coolest person ever. Now I’m in the team alongside her.
“When I was younger she was someone I really idolised and now is someone I can call a friend. It’s just amazing.”
The last few weeks have been hectic, in making sure no stone is left unturned in being prepared for the Games getting underway.
For Edinburgh-based MacPhail it has provided some opportunity to reflect on her journey, which is far from finished.
“It’s immense, the amount of support you get from Orkney. They’re so proud and I just really hope I go out there and continue to make them proud while I’m at the Games.
“I’m very lucky to be coming from such a great place.”