A KIRKCALDY woman has joined the likes of football legend Kenny Dalglish and rugby star Chris Paterson in earning 100 caps for her country.
Lesley MacDonald (30) became the first Scottish netball player to reach a century of international games in the first of three Test matches against Sri Lanka in Aberdeen on Saturday.
Not only that, the former Kirkcaldy High School pupil captained the side to a 77-42 victory, and also earned the Player of the Match award.
“It’s a huge honour to represent your country in any game, never mind for it to be for the 100th time,” Lesley told SportsPress.
“For the team to pull out a win was an added bonus as well, and winning player of the match on your 100th appearance was quite an achievement.
“There was a presentation at the end of the match and I was given a few gifts from the team as well.
“It was a real mix of emotions throughout the day but to get to that milestone was a real privilege. All in all it was a good day.”
For goal-shooter Lesley, the path to the national team started at Capshard Primary School when she first joined an after-school netball club.
She explained: “We played in tournaments against other schools but I didn’t start to take it seriously until I went to Kirkcaldy High School where Mrs Rollo took the team.
“From there I started playing district netball for Fife under 18s, and then I joined Dunfermline Netball Club, where my coach, Tammy McKinlay, advised me to take my netball further and put me forward for Scotland trials.
“I played a number of sports growing up, and athletics was my second sport, but I enjoyed the team atmosphere of netball the most.
“I’ve made a lot of friends over the years with players I’ve played alongside and against. It’s also very competitive, which is another good aspect.”
Lesley won her first Scotland cap at the age of 18 against Jamaica in a warm-up match for the 1999 World Championships, which she would go on to star in.
She is now a veteran of three World Championships having travelled to the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore with the national team over the past decade.
“I’ve played in a number of squads over the years and the current one is the most talented group of players we’ve had coming through,” she said.
“It’s a young team, but it’s developing into a mature team. It was encouraging to see them perform so well against Sri Lanka on Saturday.”
As a sports development officer for Culture and Sport Glagow, Lesley is also a key figure in promoting netball off the court, and believes the sport has developed beyond the school girl stereotypes.
“There has been a huge difference the over the years, especially in the professionalism side of the sport, and the intensity of games,” she said.
“It’s no longer the school girl sport that people think it is. If you watched the Superleague games on Sky Sports you would see a totally different game to what people perceive it to be.
“And anyone who comes to watch the Scotland matches this week will see how quick and powerful the players are, including one Sri Lankan who is 6ft 9inch tall.”
Lesley helped create the first Scottish franchise in the Netball Superleague, the Glasgow Wildcats, bringing much needed funding into the sport.
“It was essential part of the development of netball in this country to have a team competing at the highest level possible,” she explained.
“Netball is now part of the Institute of Sport so we get support in terms of things like nutrition and sports psychology, things that netball players didn’t have before.
“Sport Scotland is also now looking to help fund youth development from under 13, to under 15, and all the way up to the under 19 squad.
“There’s is now a clear pathway for young girls to progress to either the Wildcats or to the National squads.”
After achieving so much in her netball career, Lesley has one more target to aim for – a place in the 2014 Commonwealth Games taking place in her current home city of Glasgow.
“There’s a development programme in place with the aim of getting the Scottish netball team into the 2014 Games,” she said.
“I would love to be involved, but unfortunately I am one of the older ones so I’m not sure if I’ll still be around in three years time.”