In a sport often fixated on the strengths of individuals over the collective, 13 year old Beth MacDonald has an awareness beyond her years about the importance of playing as a team.
“Whenever I have a chance to shoot, I’ll take it, unless someone is in a better position to score,” says the Skye youngster, who is enjoying life at Ross County Girls and Women FC’s under-13s team which she joined earlier this year.
Beth, who lives in Bernisdale, chatted to the Free Press about her love of the game, the warm welcome she received on joining the Highland club, and her dreams of playing at the top level one day.
She said: “I have played for about six/seven months with Ross County, I joined around Easter.
“It’s once a week, on a Tuesday. We have a training session for an hour and a half, and we have games with the under-13s. I play right wing, striker, or in midfield.
“It is really exciting.”
Beth mum’s Shona said her daughter’s passion for football began when she started primary school.
“Even though she had other hobbies, it has always been football.
“She had never played with girls before — she has been with boys all the way through, but we were wary that at some point the boys will get bigger and stronger and that it might have put her off or stopped her from wanting to play.
“She had asked before Easter about a girls team but I thought there wasn’t anything like that about. But she did her research and that’s how we found out about this.
She added: “The club is really accommodating and aware of the distance we have to travel. Initially, they said to us, just come through whenever you can.
“The training is run by a PE teacher from Invergordon, and on the same night you have under-11s, under-13s, and under-18s.
“They train in Invergordon as they were previously Invergordon girls — but they came under the umbrella of Ross County around Christmas time.”
Earlier this month Beth was part of the Ross County under-13 girls team that competed in an international youth football tournament for the Edinburgh Cup.
Ross County finished top of their group with wins over more seasoned clubs – East Fife, Spartans and Hibernian.
They then played Northern Irish side Linfield in the quarter-finals which ended in a 3-3 draw in normal time but County prevailed 4-3 on penalties — with Beth converting one of the spot-kicks which earned their victory.
The Staggies’ adventure came to an end in the last four against a strong Irish select, but the team surpassed expectations with their performances.
As well as travelling through to Invergordon to play, Beth has also been involved with the local set-up with Portree’s under-13s.
Youth coach Phil McCaherty said: “We’ve had Beth in our under-13s set-up for a good few years now.
“She is a very talented player with a high skill level and she guarantees 100 per cent in all that we ask her to do on a football pitch.
“We are delighted to see Beth progress with Ross County and wish her well.”
At present Beth is playing for County in the North Under-13 Rachel McLachlan League which also features Strathspey, Thistle Girls, and Brora Rangers.
County’s most recent fixture against Strathspey was postponed due to Covid concerns, but the team have already made a strong start to the campaign having recorded a 9-1 victory against Brora in their opening game.
Beth scored five goals in that win including an excellent strike from a free-kick.
Commenting on her time so far with the club, she told the Free Press: “They are really nice, and have been very welcoming.
Touching on her style as a player she said: “Whenever I have a chance for a shot on goal I’ll take it, unless someone has a better chance then I’ll pass it to them.
“I like watching Erin Cuthbert at Chelsea, but I would like to play for Rangers and Scotland one day.”
Shona added: “I don’t care which team she plays for, as long as she’s happy wherever she goes.
“It is about taking part, the girls are really good fun and she’s really enjoying it.”
Article by ADAM GORDON