Rangers Women’s and Girls’ Football Manager Amy McDonald feels the club are creating something groundbreaking after further investment was announced last week.
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The Women’s first-team and Academy is now fully-integrated within the club’s football department with three full-time members of staff and access to sports scientists and medical staff at the Hummel Training Centre.
McDonald has moved from her role as head coach, with former Rangers left-back Gregory Vignal taking up the position.
Speaking to RangersTV, she said: “It is a huge step for the club and it is probably huge for Scottish football.
“I think we need to recognise where the game is at but the fact is that we have got the opportunity to create something that could be groundbreaking in the country.
“To be providing our Academy players with the best opportunity to progress to a pathway that will allow them to be a professional or semi-professional football player is unbelievable, I just wish I was 15 years younger!”
Alongside Amy and Gregory, Sara Speirs will take on an the role of Women’s and Girls’ Academy operations co-ordinator.
McDonald added: “A lot of people probably don’t understand where the game is at just now but for the past year I have pretty much been doing everything by myself from coaching the first-team to overseeing the Academy.
“I had really great people around me but just having people now to support the admin and having a dedicated resource and a real focus on that first-team level and individual development plans and coaching is going to be so key for us.”
The former Scotland internationalist is hoping she can work well with Gregory Vignal to provide a variety of experience and expertise to the women’s side.
She said: “I think Gregory will be a great addition for us, he has got a great personality. He has been in with the girls and they seem quite taken with him, they are really engaged and it is a huge step forward for us.
“We will be working really closely but at the same time I need to be respectful because ultimately it is Gregory’s team now.
“I have the knowledge and expertise of the girls and women’s game and he has learned a lot from being at the Academy and his experiences in France as well so we need to work well together and we need to push to improve everything we can within the women’s and girls’ programme.”
Rangers Women will now be able to sign players on semi-professional and professional contracts, a step which McDonald feels will open up more opportunity for the club.
She said: “It is huge for us because we need to compete, it’s Rangers. When I was the coach I don’t think I ever shied away from the fact that we knew where we were and we have still got a long way to go and we recognise that but to be able to attract a calibre of player and to be able to drive the standards on is massive.
“We don’t rule out for any of the players that are currently here that if they buy in to everything that we are asking them to do that they won’t be rewarded as well.”
McDonald believes young girls coming through the Academy will have the best foundations to reach the top level.
She said: “The Academy at Rangers, whether you are male or female, historically and certainly at the boys side is a huge thing. When you look at players like Glenn Middleton and Ross McCrorie who have broken through to the first team.
“We know that that is going to have to be our foundation and it is going to be our base but with that comes huge responsibility and expectation.
“For the girls, they have to take a huge step forward in their mentality and their mindset because it has to be a lifestyle choice for them now in everything they do if they want to be a professional player.
“They need to ensure that they are fit, that they have the right resilience and that they are technically and tactically astute and hopefully with the right infrastructure we can provide them with all the tools.”