RANGERS handed a debut to 17-year-old Chloe Nicholson at the start of May and in that moment the goalkeeper became a trailblazer for talent from the Western Isles.
The youngster was identified by Scotland’s National Team coaches and then recommended to Head Coach Amy McDonald and the Rangers Academy, who hope she is the first of many.From there she began training with the Gers first team at the start of 2019 when they embarked on their pre-season.
The 360 mile round trip to training and games is even more impressive than her rise through the Rangers ranks at a rapid rate.
Chloe is flown in by the club to train and play with the help of the Lewis & Harris Rangers Supporter’s Club who held a fundraiser for the stopper, raising £2000 in the process.
She now has two first team appearances under her belt following impressive wins against Stirling and Forfar. She is now in line to face Hibernian in the Gers final game before the summer break this summer. Poyt
Chloe said: “It meant a lot to sign for Rangers; it had always been my dream when I was younger. I always wanted to play for Rangers and then work my way up to the first-team.
“My dad used to play and I used to watch him then one of my local clubs asked me to play for them and that is where I started from, playing for the boys’ team. I played in goal once and have loved it ever since, it is really good being in goal.
“Wearing the Rangers badge means so much to me, I am so happy to be playing for them.
“The team have been great at welcoming me and they are always talking to me and asking me questions about my life and my family.
“I have been training with the Scotland Under 17s and that is hopefully putting me on the path to the international team, which is my big ambition, as well as playing for the Rangers first team.
“I hope to inspire the younger kids from the Islands that it is possible to follow their dreams because that is what I am doing.
“It is very hard to juggle football with my schoolwork; I have to put school in front and then have had to give up some of my spare time to travel down every weekend.
“It is very difficult to manage everything because I train during the week Monday to Thursday and also coach but I do manage it somehow. It was hard at first flying back and forth but after a while I got used to it.”
Amy McDonald is the one responsible for allowing Chloe to break into the first team set-up at Rangers. In the 4-1 win over Stirling on May 5, the game she gave the keeper her debut she also played fellow 17-year-old Rosie McQuillan for the same time, alongside 21-year-old Shivon Honeyman.
McDonald said: “It was great to have some of the youth players come on and make their first-team debut.
“We gave three players their first appearance, Shivon had been in since pre-season training with us, Rosie too who is still in the Under 17 squad and I thought she showed great composure.
“Then the final of the three was Chloe who came on in goal and did a great job. Her communication given that she is flying in and out from Stornoway and doesn’t know the girls as well was exceptional.
“We started communicating with some of the national squad coaches and there is not the performance pathway up in Stornoway but Chloe is someone who is recognised as having talent.
“We were really happy to accommodate her and she really has great ability. Moving forward for a lot of players who are in the Highlands or on the Islands, they want to be able to move down.
“She is flying in and out and has been since the start of the season, getting some training in with the team so she feels familiar with the players.
“We were super impressed with her against Stirling which is why we decided to fly her in for the Forfar and Hibs games.
“I don’t have any qualms about playing her and I think it is very similar to how the academy are looking at it. We need to ensure we are giving players the opportunity and experience. Given Chloe’s last performance then we are confident she will be able to do a good job.”
Benburb Football Club is located less than a mile away from Ibrox Stadium.