Friday 17 April 2020, 09:18

The Scotland stalwart lending a scientific hand

  • Jo Love is Scotland's most capped outfield player

  • She is currently helping to tackle COVID-19 in her day job

  • The midfielder is producing hand sanitiser for under-resourced health workers

As the fight against COVID-19 rages on, individuals and organisations the world over are doing what they can to help strike a blow.

Glasgow City Council is no exception, and the Scottish local authority recently posted a video of its Scientific Services team working to support frontline health workers. That footage – of a bespectacled scientist adapting her lab work to produce much-needed hand sanitiser – would have been laudable in any circumstances. But eagle-eyed football fans were quick to note that this was no ordinary scientist.

It was Jo Love: 191-times capped Scotland international and veteran of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™.

On the day the video was published, Love should have been in Germany with her club side, Glasgow City, preparing for a UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final. Fate, and a global pandemic, had other ideas of course, leaving the Scotland star to make the best of a strange and unprecedented situation.

“This definitely isn’t what I expected to be doing,” she admitted, speaking to “But the whole world is adjusting to this new situation and people's health is paramount, so I'm just happy to be doing anything I can to help. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to what the frontline staff in the NHS (National Health Service) are doing, but hopefully it’s making a small difference.

“If I had the skills and the qualifications, I would put myself out on the front line. I’d like to think I’m a person who tries to help others, pandemic or not, and in this situation the hand sanitiser stuff is just something I can do to help the people who’re doing most.

“It became obvious pretty early in all of this that there was a shortage of sanitiser, and of the alcohol to create it. We jumped on that because we knew we had some supplies in the lab and were able to use that to start production. From there, it’s just grown arms and legs. In fact, we just received a big order of 1,000 litres that will ramp things up a lot.

"We’re working on producing sanitiser all the time right now and, from the chemical side of things to the likes of ordering in bottles, handling the labelling, we’ve become like a little factory. It’s hard going with just three people in the lab, especially when you factor in social distancing. But hopefully we’re doing enough to make a small difference."

Jo Love of Scotland poses for a portrait during the official FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 portrait session.

Prior to the pandemic, Love’s day job centred on consumer protection and assessing the safety of products ranging from fuel through to cosmetics and children’s toys. But while forging this career, the 34-year-old has also managed to become the most capped outfield player in Scotland’s history, amassing close to 200 appearances since her debut in 2002.

But has it become tougher, with the standard of the women’s game rising by the year, to hold her own against the ever-growing number of full-time team-mates and opponents?

“I like to think I’ve managed it pretty well. Although I’m not a full-time player, I’ve always tried to maintain high standards and train like a professional. My only issue now is age, and that’s one thing I can’t do anything about!

“If I’d started out in the game a few years later than I did, maybe I would have done things differently and looked at the professional route. But I’m very comfortable with how it’s all worked out for me and the balance I’ve been able to strike.

“In the current situation, I definitely think that having another job makes it easier for me than it is for the other girls. I’m grateful to have something else to focus on."

Yet even as she devotes her energies to aiding the fight against COVID-19, Love isn’t able to neglect her football or fitness. Nor would she want to. The midfielder is, however, craving the fun, camaraderie and motivation that only come with working in a collective.

“One of the reasons I love football and took up the game is because it’s a team sport, and I do find I need team-mates around me to get me going,” she admitted. “I’m normally terrible at running and training on my own. Right now though, there’s just no other option.

“Fortunately I bought a treadmill for the house just before all this started and I’ve been able to get outside for exercise too. I’ve also had Zoom calls with some team-mates, just to check in. But it’s definitely not the same. The sooner this is all over and we can get back to normal, the better.”

Everyone will share those sentiments. In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know that we have resourceful experts like Love out there, dedicating themselves to this historic effort.

In this composite image, (L-R) Erin Cuthbert,Jane Ross,Joanne Love,Kim Little,Rachel Corsie of Scotland.