We can compete in the top four, says Spartans star Robyn McCafferty

She used to be a ball girl for Hibs Women, but Spartans star Robyn McCafferty will be doing everything she can to keep the ball well away from her former club this weekend.

Robyn McCafferty

The 17-year-old defender is looking forward to Sunday’s Edinburgh derby at Ainslie Park when SWPL1 resumes after a four-month break.

McCafferty came through the ranks at Hibs, joining at the age of eight and progressing through the age groups to the now defunct under-23 development side before moving to Spartans to sample first-team football.

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Speaking to the Leading The Lines podcast, McCafferty said: “It was so good at Hibs. I learned so much being there and it was an amazing experience for me. I enjoyed every second of my time there and I owe so much to that club.

“But I’d been there for so long and it was time for a change. I wanted a new challenge. I knew it would be difficult, being so young and having no experience of SWPL1 before.

“But I wanted to challenge myself by competing with players who have more experience and against some of the top players in the country. I wanted that challenge to push myself and improve. I want to make this a career and play professionally one day.

“I have learned so much from the girls Spartans and it has really benefited me.”

The Fifer, who was Scotland Under-17 captain and is now in the frame to be selected for the under-19 squad, has found the most recent lockdown “a lot more difficult” than the first one.

Although she values the countless Zoom sessions she has had with both Spartans and Scotland Under-17s over the past few months, nothing can compare to getting out onto the training pitch with teammates.

She added: “We’ve all had to go through this and it can be pretty lonely at times. So at least we were able to communicate and be a team over Zoom. I think that was really important.

“I’ve done a lot of running, but doing it on your own is not the most fun. That’s probably been the best thing about coming back.

“I was used to seeing my teammates every day, training before school and then after school with Spartans. To go from that to not seeing anyone has been quite challenging. Everyone at Spartand and Scotland has found the same.”

Things are not back to normal yet, with changing rooms out of bounds and social distancing still enforced outwith the training pitch itself. But McCafferty can’t wait for the real action to begin against her former club this weekend.

“It’s been challenging, but we’re excited now,” she added. “We’re happy to be back on the pitch.

She believes Spartans do have what it takes to challenge Hibs and the three full-time professional teams, Glasgow City, Rangers and Celtic.

“We want to challenge the top teams in the league. We have felt good at training. We’re ready for the season to restart and to prove that Spartans are ready to compete with the top four.”