Adventure of a lifetime

Two Fife friends are about to leave McDermid Ladies for Stateside scholarships. In the first of a diary series, they look back with pride and forward with glee.

This article first appeared in Issue 24 which was published in June 2022.

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As much as I will miss all my family and friends, I can’t wait to see what experiences this will offer me, and I am so excited to share this adventure and opportunity with Scarlett.

Rebecca Murdoch  

My name is Rebecca Murdoch. I am 18 years old from Glenrothes in Scotland and here is my football journey so far…

I started playing football in 2010 for the Lomond Colts when I was only 6-years-old. My mum taught gymnastics at the Lomond Centre most nights and at the same time on Mondays and Wednesdays there was football training with the Lomond Colts. My mum enquired about me starting as my big brother already played for the Colts and I started out with the boys’ team for a few months until they got a girls’ team up and running. When I was 7-years-old, I played my first competitive game of football, for the under 11s. I scored my first hattrick and that was me hooked. 

I played a few seasons with Lomond Colts then whilst with the under 13s I moved over to Raith Rovers. I had attended training sessions with other local clubs but seening as I was a big Raith Rovers fan it was an easy decision for me to make to choose the Kirkcaldy club. 

When I was younger, I did a lot of different sports including football, rugby, gymnastics, and swimming. My favorite two sports however were football and Rugby. At my local rugby club, all the coaches and parents called me the “Speed Queen” because none of the boys could catch me. I loved the game and the friendly atmosphere within the club. 

My mum was a former Scottish champion gymnast and hoped that I would follow in her footsteps, but it didn’t take long for me to develop the nickname in the gym club as “Stecky Becky”. We both decided that I should stick to Football and Rugby. Football games were on Saturday mornings and rugby matches were on Sundays and I could have been playing anywhere in Scotland, it took up most of the weekends. Just before starting high school, I had to make the decision to leave rugby, as I would have had to move to an all-girls team at 12 and there were no local girls’ clubs at that time, so I made the decision to continue playing football and give 100% to that. 

After a few seasons with Raith Rovers, I was chosen for team captain. It was a position I proudly held for three seasons, leading the team to cup finals and winning the league before recently signing for the ladies team. I had already played quite a few games with the ladies team when they were short on players or had a big game, so I was already familiar with the players and coaches. I made my debut when I was 15. But with the uproar of fans and players over the signing of David Goodwillie to the Raith Rovers men’s team it caused an end to the Raith Rovers women’s team in dispute of the management’s decisions. What kickstarted the moving away from the club was Val McDermid’s withdrawal of her sponsor of the men’s team followed by our ladies team captain leaving Raith Rovers over the signing. After many discussions with the rest of the team and coaches we decided that we no longer wanted to be associated with the club. This is when the team decided that we wanted to go under the name of McDermid Ladies. Val was delighted to accept and offered to sponsor the ladies and help us more. So that is where my football career is at present playing home games for McDermid Ladies at windmill campus but that is soon all to change… 

I had an interview early last year with a scholarship recruitment agency but with the global pandemic my mum and I both agreed it was not the right time to be travelling abroad. However, this year the opportunity arose again when my best friend Scarlett Archer accepted a scholarship to Parkland College in Champaign Illinois. She contacted the coach at Parkland asking if there were any scholarships left as she knew I was really interested. She was then informed that a girl from Brazil had just declined the last international scholarship. My former football coach, Scarlett’s dad, put together a showreel of me and sent it to the Parkland soccer coach. I was then contacted and offered the scholarship as he was impressed with what he had seen. I have now accepted the scholarship and travel out to America in July. As much as I will miss all my family and friends, I can’t wait to see what experiences this will offer me, and I am so excited to share this adventure and opportunity with Scarlett. 

 

Scarlett Archer

It had all begun when I was eight years old, on an ordinary Monday morning. We were all sitting cross legged in the assembly hall. I was just one amongst 500 restless school pupils. The RE teacher had finally finished her speech about providing food for the local foodbank, and I had given up listening to the rest of the lame assembly. It was nearing break time, and I was looking forward to having my daily Capri Sun from the tuck shop. However, suddenly I had heard something that caught my attention. The head teacher said, “if any of you are interested there is a girls football team in Kirkcaldy called Raith Rovers who are in need of more players”. That afternoon after school I nagged my mum to take me to try out for the team. To my delight she called the school for extra details and at six o clock that evening I went along to see whether football was to my liking.

I was hooked, we trained every Monday and Wednesday evening and soon we were playing non-competitive games against other teams. I soon made friends with my newfound teammates and looked forward to my Saturday games and the training drills on Monday and Wednesday. I naturally suited playing in defence and although I’m short I developed a reputation for being strong and unafraid to make difficult tackles against often much taller girls.

After a few months my dad became involved and soon worked though his coaching badges and became our official coach. We stayed as a squad until we were 17 and won the league a few times and were regularly in the Cup Final although sadly never won. Our team camaraderie was superb, we were truly a strong team.

From the age of 10 I regularly spoke to my family of my desire to go to America to study and play football and now, at the age of 17 have made my dream a reality. I signed with Global Sports Recruitment in September 2021 after playing a couple of trial games where they analysed my football skills and ability, they accepted me on to their programme. We had zoom calls with John Crawley who filled us in with all the info we needed. They of course took my grades into account and even advised me exactly what I needed to get into Colleges and Universities therefore altering what I studied in 6th year. GSR put together a show reel of the games I played with them, and myself and my dad also put together a showreel of our own from the footage we had of my time with Raith which GSR also used. 

Offers started coming in, and in January and we had zoom calls with various Colleges and Universities. Some offers were more generous than others and some just didn’t fit for various reasons. 

Unfortunately, this exciting period was overshadowed by the signing of David Goodwillie at Raith Rovers FC which threw everything into disarray amongst the ladies’ team who I’d not long joined having moved up from the under 17s. Val McDermid withdrew her sponsorship of the men’s club and after hearing that our captain had resigned from Raith Rovers Ladies in protest over the poorly thought out signing, she reached out and offered to sponsor a brand new ladies team and from there McDermid Ladies was born. I was no longer a player for Raith Rovers, I was now a member of McDermid Ladies.

More offers were sliding into my inbox, and we arranged more zoom calls. One call was with Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. The funny thing is, we weren’t expecting much from the call but decided to give it a shot and instantly we knew this felt right. Coach Dan Voselsang was kind, enthusiastic, extremely gregarious and had a great knowledge about football having played professionally in his younger years in Germany and was a big advocate for women’s empowerment. He told us that he took over Parkland Cobras ladies mid covid and is extremely excited to launch this new team who will play in Division 2 of NCJAA League. Parkland College had many sports teams who have all reached the national finals, he continued. The ladies’ volleyball team won their final, but the ladies’ soccer side had performed poorly and let the college down. It was felt that Dan was the man to change this, and the old coach was let go, and he was brought in to shake things up. He’s building a nearly brand-new team and hand-picking players from all over America and some from further afield such as Canada, France and Brazil and of course Scotland. Both myself and my parents knew this felt right and the scholarship offer was excellent. I accepted a week after the call and can’t believe I’m going to live my dream! I fly out in July to begin pre-season training and I cannot wait.

This article first appeared in Issue 24 which was published in June 2022.

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