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ICT Development's Peteranna grateful for chance to dig out football boots

By Alasdair Fraser

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It was Sir Matt Busby who said ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’.

Mary Peteranna’s variation on the old maxim involves veteran status and enduring talent in a team of mostly teenagers.

The American archaeologist and ex-US Navy servicewoman plays for the fledgling Caley Thistle women’s development side, a steadying influence in the heart of midfield.

Now 14 years a Cromarty resident, Peteranna got back involved in her beloved childhood sport competitively last February after kicking a ball about again in the back garden with football-daft son Charlie.

After coaching primary school kids, she got in touch with senior women’s team manager Karen Mason and was enlisted by development coach Ally Munro for the inaugural Highlands and Islands League.

Clachnacuddin Womens Eilidh Anderson (left) and Inverness Caledonian Thistle Women Development's Mary Peteranna.
Clachnacuddin Womens Eilidh Anderson (left) and Inverness Caledonian Thistle Women Development's Mary Peteranna.

That brought about her first serious matches since the age of 18, with university studies, work and naval commitments having diverted her for years.

There is a passion and drive in Peteranna for development of the women’s game and she helps on the coaching side.

Being able to play at the age of 40 is just a joyous bonus, with manager Munro rating her as one of the fittest and most able within his squad.

She said: “I saw the development work going on for young women and thought ‘about time’. It is really heartening. That’s one of the things I missed out on in my youth.

“I’m so grateful to Ally and all the volunteer coaches who teach this beautiful game. The fact I also get to play matches is just so much fun.”

Caley Thistle development finished second in the new league, behind runaway winners Clach after Lewis and Harris withdrew in mid-season.

There are no plans from Peteranna to stop, with the team’s guiding light loving every minute of it.

She admitted: “It took me time to get my head around being a team-mate, given the age gap, but I do feel like one now. I love them, they’re friends. Thanks to them, I’ve a wonderful opportunity to play again.

“Part of the challenge has been players coming and going, but towards the end of the season we found our team. At first, the girls maybe didn’t know how committed they wanted to be. They’re really talented girls with potentially a great future.”

Peteranna's passion for youth development in football has stretched back across the Kessock Bridge.

The 40-year-old has started taking regular coaching sessions at Fortrose Academy, with 35 boys and girls regularly attending.

But Peteranna wants to expand the numbers of young females attending from the current total of six, saying: “We are trying to set up a Black Isle team.

“If youngsters in that area are not getting picked up by one of the big local clubs, they don’t really have anywhere to play out here.

“It can be hard for a lot of parents to get them to Inverness, Invergordon or Dingwall. Girls or boys who want to get involved, are welcome to join us.

“Longer-term, I’d really like to see a girls team up-and-running if we can attract more along.

“We get some who drift away and the challenge is to create an environment the girls feel comfortable and accepted.”

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