Last month Scotland travelled to Cyprus for the last part of their Euro qualifier campaign. I caught up with Scotland international and Rangers right-back Rachel McLauchlan on what it was like to be apart of the February camp and how she has settled in at Rangers.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Rachel McLauchlan and I’ve played football since I was around 5 years old. My family used to go to all the Livingston games when I lived down there so from a very young age I had already found a real love for the game. Throughout my career in football I’ve played for boys clubs, u15s girl clubs and then Inverness, Aberdeen, Hibs, Yeovil, Glasgow City and I’m now at Rangers women’s club who I signed with at the start of the year. I play right back for the club which is a position that I have started to play in over the last few years, in other clubs, I have also played right midfield.
Who were your footballing inspirations growing up?
Growing up I was lucky to have people even within my teams that were older and more experienced who gave me something to look up too. I was always inspired by teammates and players who I was playing against at the time, especially when I was around 16 years and had joined Inverness ladies who were in the top flight of football. I always remember looking up to players like Julie Fleeting also who was such an amazing player for club and internationally. The players around me at club level and players that I could watch on TV or read about really drove me forward, giving me the motivation to try become the best player that I could.
When you played for Glasgow City you played in the Champions League, what was it like to play in such a major tournament?
Feel really privileged to have been part of the Champions League competition as there is a different element of excitement when performing in them games. It’s a really tough competition to be in as the standard of games and opposition you play tends to be higher. Last year was definitely my favourite run with Glasgow City in the competition where we managed to get to the quarter-finals and played Wolfsburg who are an incredible team. The run of the games beforehand were quite hard and we went all the way to penalties with Brondby so it made it really special when we scored the last penalty to go through to that next stage. the competition always seems to bring the team closer together, as there are more games being played, you get to travel together and you need the team to have that tight connection if you want to succeed.
You’ve not long joined Rangers, how have you settled in? And was it a hard decision to leave Glasgow?
It was a hard decision to leave Glasgow City as they are a strong team and I got on well with the players and coaches but when the opportunity came up for me to join Rangers I was sure it was the right one for me at that time. I knew a lot of the girls who were signed with Rangers and knew they’d have a strong team who can perform at a high intensity, the facilities they have when showed were incredible and the coaching staff were really friendly and motivating so I knew that going there was going to give me that next step up to try and achieve another level within my game. The girls and coaching staff made it very easy to settle in which was really pleasing as it allowed me to come and train and play exactly how I normally would, without having to get fully used to a new team.
You spent a period playing for Yeovil in the WSL, what was that experience like?
Yeovil was the first club I joined which was professional which meant I could fully focus on football which was a big step as it allowed more individual sessions, time to watch clips back and reflect on areas I need to improve on so I think that really helped me at the time. I felt I learnt a lot from the coaches that were taking Yeovil at the time which has helped in my game massively. To play in such a top league as well really motivated and inspired me to put in more work and improve my football. Ever since I joined Yeovil the girls were all really friendly and welcoming so was great to be part of the team. Although my time was short at Yeovil I enjoyed my overall experience when I was part of the club.
How did you find the move down to the West Country when you played for Yeovil?
I was staying at Taunton when I moved down to play with Yeovil and fully enjoyed it. It was a quiet place but still had plenty of things to do, shops or places to eat out in. My family live in Avoch, a small village in the highlands of Scotland and Taunton had its similarities to theirs which was nice for me whilst living far away from home.
Is there much of a difference between the WSL and the Scottish League playing-wise?
I would say there is a difference in the leagues with the WSL being stronger and more competitive at the moment. I think there is a lot more money down in England for the women’s game which shows the equipment and facilities that they get used to which attracts a lot of players to go there. However, I do feel that the Scottish game is growing considerably and has done over the last couple of years especially with more teams backing the women’s side and sponsors starting to show more interest which will hopefully in time encourage other players to join, facilities within the league to get better and to gain more spectators so that the overall game can improve.
You were called up for the SWNT February Camp, what was it like to be able to be back with the girls?
It was great being back in for the camp with the girls in the national team last month. We were out in Cyprus for a week to play Cyprus and Portugal in the last part of the Euro qualifiers. it’s always a privilege when you are involved in your national team and something that I am really proud of.
What can you remember from the day you made your Scotland debut?
My Scotland debut is of course one of my highlights within my footballing career and always will be. I came against the Netherlands who were a really strong team and from watching it was already a really tough game so as club as I was excited to get on the park I was really nervous when I got the call to get warmed up. However, as soon as I got on the pitch it was another game of football and I was just ecstatic to be on the pitch playing for my country. The game was also held in the Livingston stadium which made it more special for me as it was where I spent a lot of my childhood with my family watching the men’s team as Livingston was where I was born and grew up. It will be a. moment that will always stay with me.
What’s been your biggest setback in football and how did you overcome it?
I’ve been quite lucky regarding setbacks as I’ve not had many throughout my time playing. I’ve had a few ankle injuries where I’ve torn ligaments that have made me miss some games in the Champions League which I was devastated about at the time and other times where I’ve missed out in league games. No matter what games you miss it’s always hard to take as all you ever want to do is play. However, compared to others I haven’t had anything terribly bad thankfully and have only ever been out for a few months at a time.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve had a lot of advice over the years that have helped me as a footballer improving my nutrition, skill development and my awareness on the pitch. The one bit of advice I received when I was younger was to simply “never give up” this has always stayed with me. Football can be very demanding and can have such an effect on my overall mood therefore when I’m maybe not playing at my best individually, the team have lost a few games or I’m not getting picked to play it can sometimes be really hard to stay positive but the quote reminds me that in football there’s always a way to work harder and get to the place you want to be at.