The young Bonnyrigg Rose goalkeeper barred from playing the game she loves has now been give the go-ahead to rejoin her teammates.
Courtney McDonald (16) suffers from right hemiplegia, which means that she struggles with stiffness in the muscles on the right-hand side of her body, affecting her balance and the flexibility in her ankle and foot joints. It also means that she does not have the strength or stamina of other girls her age.
Due to her disability the Bonnyrigg Rose goalkeeper has been playing with players a year or more younger than she is for several seasons. But, despite granting her special dispensation in the past, the Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) board members withdrew their support in May.
However, amid growing pressure the SWF Board has now deemed that there are exceptional circumstances in Courtney’s case and has granted her dispensation, much to the relief of everyone at her club.
Bonnyrigg Rose Community Football Club chairman and coach Jim Wilson is delighted.
He said: “We are absolutely over the moon. The whole club is. It’s a really big thing to get her playing competitive football again.
“It’s great that they have seen sense. I think their communications officer Susie Fraser has taken a big role in it. Until she got involved I didn’t think anybody was willing to listen to us at the SWF.
“Her arrival to the organisation in June coincided with the articles in the press, including in the Advertiser.
“And since the Advertiser put me in touch with her, things have moved in the right direction.
“Local MP Owen Thompson wrote to the SWF as well. And indeed, the support of all the clubs in the league was a big factor. The Scottish Government was made aware of it as well and from that, Angela Constance wrote to the SWF. I think that pressure thrusted the resolution they eventually came out with.
“We are just delighted as a club for Courtney and her mum Heather.”
Despite his joy that Courtney has been given the green light to play again, Jim is disappointed that she had to miss so much football.
He said: “Courtney missed 19 games, half the season really. She has been out since March/ April but now she can get back playing.
“We have 12 games between now and the end of the season. We hope to finish third behind Hearts and Hibs, best of the rest, really.”
Jim explained that Courtney is a big part of the community club.
He said: “Courtney has been in the girls’ section since the outset, which is nearly seven years now. There were 12 to start with, now there are nearly 90. She was one of the first.
“It is no question down to coaches Robin and Ricky’s dedication to grow it to what it is now.
“We hope next year to have a ladies team so we have all the ages covered.
“We have got a bit of interest from ladies who used to play for us as youngsters who are now in their 20s. They want to come back and play for the club again.”
A spokeswoman for the SWF said: “The special resolution has been carried with a majority of the votes. In accordance with the amendment to the rule on dispensation, the SWF Board has deemed that there are exceptional circumstances in Courtney’s case and have granted her dispensation.
“I am delighted to confirm, therefore, that Courtney is now eligible to play for the rest of this season.”