Scottish Women's Premier League

Amy McDonald: Setting the Crossbar High

September 29th 2018

In the early mornings of the summer holidays, a young aspiring footballer is the first one awake in her street. Shoes on, hair pinned up and a football in hand. She pulls her socks up to her grass-stained knees and continuously kicks a worn out ball against her muddy shoes as the sun moves over her head. As the day passes, nothing changes except the count of keepie uppie’s. By the time the sun sets, the street lamps begin to illuminate the street acting as floodlights that she one day hopes to play under. She doesn’t want to leave her happy place.

Amy McDonald; Footballer, Scotland Internationalist, coach and academy manager. Although Amy’s schedule very busy she always keeps her activities revolved around her passion, football. As a young girl, it presented itself to be more difficult to pursue her passion in the game compared to her male teammates. Although her road to a career in the game wasn’t a straight road as others, the barriers that were presented didn’t stand in her way. Proving that gender does not shape your ability to pursue your passion. the thing you love to the most.

McDonald grew up with a strong love for football, any spare minute she had it would be outside to kick a rugged football or out watching her favourite team at the weekend – she was in love with every aspect of the game. Growing up, Amy was presented with challenges as a young football fanatic, she showed herself to be the only girl in her school desperate to play in the team, but it was evident that some were not as keen for her to play as she so desperately was. This never showed to affect her mentality. Her passion grew harder and her devotion grew stronger. “You have a natural drive for when it’s your passion” McDonald was determined to prove her ability, spending hours outside kicking a ball during the holidays and after school to the point that her mother would have to drag her in after dark.

McDonald played for Clyde Boys Club at a young age before moving over into an all-girls team at East Kilbride Girls then onto Hamilton Accies at the age of fifteen. “The biggest struggle for me was moving from boys football to girls football. Girls can be the biggest support to one another but can very quickly tear each other down.” After leaving Hamilton Academical, Amy signed for Kilmarnock in 2005 playing a part in the team winning the Scottish `women’s Premier League Cup against Glasgow City. In 2007, she joined Queens Park but shortly left to rejoin Kilmarnock. A couple years later, McDonald signed for Celtic and was given the opportunity to captain her teammates at the club before heading to Glasgow City.

As a Scotland Internationalist, McDonald enjoyed every opportunity given to her to represent her country, arming herself 30 caps for Scotland. Whilst on international duty, she was able to embrace diverse cultures and countries alongside her teammates. “To think that you’ve played a part in that journey it’s such a special feeling to be able to sing the national anthem and to be away with a lot of good people who made the time even more memorable.” However, Amy’s playing career ended at a young age of twenty-six after suffering from an ankle ligament injury whilst playing for Glasgow City. She underwent rehab for 6 – 8 months but despite her best efforts, McDonald was unable to play competitively again. “I lost my identity. Growing up I was introduced as Amy who plays for Scotland or Amy who plays for Celtic and then I just became Amy. When you give up your sport you do lose so much of yourself.”

After time off recovering from her injury, Amy showed enthusiasm for a coaching role in the youth system, guiding young stars in the making. She began her new start in football by volunteering at Glasgow City, which was made into a full-time position shortly after. “When I went full time, its s shift in your mindset because when you’re a volunteer it’s still your passion, you’re not earning anything but when you do become full time the expectation is more.” In 2017, McDonald’s coaching career grew as she was appointed the head coach for her childhood team in the SWPL, her role was then later shifted to Women’s and Girls Academy manager. Her position at the club allows her to oversee everything and play an important role in the development of your team. “To see the progress now, it’s the small things that make such a significant difference. You want to be able to impact their lives, not just about what’s on the pitch but whats off it as well. If I could leave anything I would hope to leave the programme in better shape than it was when I got here and continue to drive it forward.” As well as playing a part in the development of women in football, she hopes to help improve women’s football as a whole. Celebrating and broadening the representation of all women who work across the sport whether it’s on or off the pitch. “There is a viable career whether its sports journalism or social media or anything like that and say ‘actually there is a place in sport for you and particularly in women football.”

Amy McDonald has created a notable representation of what’s achievable to women aspiring a career in football. As a young girl passionate about the game, her opportunities were shown to be limited due to her gender. McDonald has had a successful playing career, playing for numerous clubs across the country and representing Scotland internationally. Now moving onto a coaching and managerial career playing a key role in the development of youth teams. She has shown what is achievable for in the game and has proven that setbacks might present themselves along the way but nothing should get in the way of pursuing your passion.