Western Isles winger makes the step up with Inverness Caledonian Thistle
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Mary Macleod says it was a challenge to step up to the Championship North with Inverness Caledonian Thistle Women.
The winger was one of the stand-out players in the inaugural Highlands and Islands League season, scoring goals for fun for Lewis and Harris.
She particularly shone in the cup final, held at the Caledonian Stadium, where she scored a hat trick to lift the trophy.
For various reasons, the Western Isles outfit pulled out of the league midway through the season though, and Macleod was quickly snapped up by Caley Thistle.
“That was our first ever competitive league at the Western Isles, we had never really had competitive games all the time,” Macleod recalled.
“It was a great experience playing week in, week out, playing different teams. As much as you train all the time, nothing compares to actual game time.
“It was quite a big step up I think, I struggled a wee bit with the technical side of things but I felt like I had enough strength and power against other players.
“My fitness was pretty good anyway, but I had to learn to be quicker on the ball and not dribble as much, not try to play through everyone. “I ended up getting the hand of it quite quickly, and I feel like I’m doing okay now.”
Football may be Macleod’s passion now, but it was not her first love.
Instead, athletics played a big role in her life until the age of 16, and she thrived in that environment as a sprinter.
Macleod, from Lewis, won a silver medal at the 2019 Island Games in a moment that is right up there with the cup final hat trick in her mind.
“In 2019 I represented the Western Isles at the Island Games and won a silver medal in the triple jump,” she explained.
“It’s so hard to explain how good the Island Games are unless you’re actually there.
“I’ve been there twice for football and once for athletics, I was there in 2017 and 2019 for football and in 2019 I was there for athletics as well.
“The standard that each team brings to that competition is just ridiculous.
“There are so many international footballers.”
She added: “Unless you reach a proper elite level with a bigger team, that’s the closest any of us from an island will ever get to that in our career.
“Just being around so many different islands is amazing in itself, it’s such a good experience.”