The Old Firm clash is not the only derby in the SWPL 1 on Sunday, with Edinburgh sides Hibernian Ladies FC and Spartans Women FC going head-to-head at Ainslie Park. Hibs were double cup winners in 2017 and finished runners-up in the league. Their city rivals Spartans ended the season in fifth and 17-year-old midfielder Kaela McDonald-Nguah, who has signed for the club after spending last season on loan from Celtic, says fans and rivals can expect to see a ‘rejuvenated’ team in 2018… writes Catherine Etoe.
SK: So Kaela, a new season and a new manager in Paul Greig, how is it going?
KMN: Yes, we’re really optimistic for this season, lots to look forward to. The new manager has come in, he’s been brilliant and has implemented what he wants to do very early on.
SK: What can teams expect from Spartans this term?
KMN: A rejuvenated team that works hard and is not going to be outworked by any other team
SK: What was the most fun you had with the team last year?
KMN: It’s hard to think of one last year but when we started back for pre-season this year we had a team building activity which was very interesting. We were split into three teams and sent around Edinburgh with a list of challenges and we had to complete as many as possible. Some were perform a flash mob in a public place, team photos on a trampoline; we were all in kit and we had to post all our pictures and videos on social media as proof we’d done it. It was fun.
SK: What will you take from last season into this one?
KMN: Maybe some patience. I felt like if things didn’t go our way, patience was one of the things that ran out, with me especially and the team and it didn’t help on the park. I think we’ll be more together this year, more as a team.
SK: What do you bring to the side?
KMN: Creativity, strength in the midfield.
SK: Have you got any superstitions?
KMN: Before a game I always have to put my left boot on, right boot on, left shinguard on, right shinguard on. I’ve just always done it and maybe there was one game I didn’t and I didn’t have a good game so it’s just stuck with me since then. I do it even just for training, it has to be the same.
SK: You are a Scotland youth player, how is that going?
KMN: I’m currently in the European Championships campaign with the under-19s and we’ve got the Elite Round to look forward to, which we’re hosting so we’ll hopefully get a few fans down to that at the beginning of April.
SK: How does your international experience help you at club level?
KMN: Just being able to play against different players, a bit of experience against top players, it’s good to bring that in when you are playing the likes of City and Hibs who have international players in their sides.
SK: How did you get involved in the game?
KMN: I started when I was four, I always kicked about in the streets. It’s funny, I started off as a dancer and my mum says I just turned around one day and said I wanted to play football so it just went from there.
SK: Any thoughts on how women’s football is developing in Scotland?
KMN: This will only be my third season playing at this level and you can already see an improvement in the media coverage, even just more fans going to games, it’s really good.
SK: What are your ambitions?
KMN: Just to get to the highest level as I can, a professional contract is the dream, if I work hard, then hopefully we’ll see what happens.
Check out the fixtures for SWPL1: http://www.womenspremierleague.co.uk/fixtures-results/
SPOTLIGHT ON SWPL 2
We start a mini series of player interviews with stars of the second division…
Name: Sophie Gallacher
Club: Motherwell Ladies
Where are you from originally? Greenoch
Who do you support? Celtic.
Have you got a nickname? Some of the team call me Sutton. Don’t know why though!
Who are your best mates in football? I’ve been there since I was 17, so I’m quite close with all of them, as there’s been a few of us that have stuck together.
What’s your best football memory – playing or watching? It’s all been really good…probably going unbeaten and winning the double [they won all 18 games in their 2015 ‘invincible’ season in the SWFL 2nd Division South East/West].
And your worst? Losing the League Cup, last season.
What’s your hope for this season? To win the league and get promotion!
Who was your favourite player growing up? As a Celtic fan, it’s Henrik Larsson. Everybody’s usual!
What boots do you wear? Nike Mercurials.
Are they always clean? *Laughs* No. If we play on astro they’re alright though.
How many pairs of trainers do you own? Loads!
Have you ever had a pet? I’ve got a dog (a blue staffy), Bella.
What’s your regular coffee order? I don’t drink coffee or tea. Hot chocolate!
Who does the most over the top celebrations in training? Probably our captain, Stacey Cook. She over-celebrates anything.
Would you like to play abroad if you got the chance? Definitely. Preferably somewhere hot!
Ronaldo or Messi: Messi
Weights or running: Running
Chocolate or cheese: Chocolate
Eastenders or Corrie: Eastenders
Rice or pasta: Rice
Snapchat or Instagram: Insta
Left foot or right foot: Both
Snakes or spiders: Spiders
What’s your favourite flavour of crisps? Salt & Vinegar McCoys
Is wearing gloves to play acceptable or soft? No because you’ll get too hot too fast.
Dancing or singing: Dancing
French or German: French
Would you take a penalty? *nods* Uhu
Are you any good in goal? Don’t know!
Heads or volleys: Volleys
Toast or cereal: Cereal
Win, lose or draw? WIN!
Check out the fixtures for SWPL2: http://www.womenspremierleague.co.uk/fixtures-results/