Kirkcaldy netball star retires as most capped player

Lesley MacDonald in action for Scotland against Malawi at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
Lesley MacDonald in action for Scotland against Malawi at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Kirkcaldy’s Commonwealth Games star, Lesley MacDonald, has announced her retirement from international netball.

Lesley is Scotland’s most capped player, having won 127 caps since 1999, and she finished her career by captaining the side at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The 34-year-old former Kirkcaldy High School pupil admitted that she had mixed emotions about her decision to retire.

“I have a huge sense of pride with regards to my personal achievements but more so to what we have achieved as a squad,” she said.

“I have had the privilege of playing alongside some amazing players, had great role models that have guided me through my career, that have created memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

“The biggest influence on my career has been my family, in particular my mum and dad, who have supported me and travelled the world to cheer on the team.

“To all of them, I thank them so much.

“The Commonwealth Games was massive for me, the pinnacle event for any netballer and I was hugely honoured to have captained the team at their first games.

“I have been playing on the international stage for 16 years and I can honestly say it was by far the most amazing experience.

“The best feeling in the world is when you stand shoulder to shoulder with your team mates at the start of the match, the adrenaline pumping, and you know you are about to put your body on the line for your team mates and your country.

“This is truly amazing, and I will hugely miss this.

“Netball has given me so much and I have loved every minute of it.

“I will always be a Scottish Thistle through and through and my heart will always continue to play, but I look forward to watching and supporting the Thistles on their journey to the World Cup next year and beyond.”

Tributes have poured in from key figures within Netball Scotland.

Freda Hutchison, the organisation’s chair, said: “She has demonstrated a very dedicated and professional attitude towards her netball and this commitment has ensured she has developed into a world class player.

“Lesley has been a positive and distinctive role model, not just for our younger players but also with her fellow international and club netball players.

“They all have a high regard and respect for her unstinting efforts to constantly improve her play and her coaching abilities.

“The Thistles squad will sorely miss her experience and leadership, but hopefully will still be able to benefit from her continuing role in the coaching aspects of netball in the future.”

Lesley will continue to work with the national team as an age group coach.

Gail Parate, national team coach, added: “To be amongst the elite netballers in the world who have achieved over 100 caps for their country is exceptional.

“I wish you well as you make the transition into full time coaching.”