Following her soccer dreams has led a Winnipeg girl to play the beautiful game in Scotland.
Amy Harrison’s skill on the pitch has brought her to Glasgow, Scotland to play for the Rangers Football Club’s Ladies Senior Squad in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. She wouldn’t quite call it the "big show" though.
"It’s not professional (level)," the 22-year-old said. "In Scotland you don’t get paid, because there isn’t enough money, but it’s the highest league in Scotland, if that counts."
Harrison’s journey has taken her around the world. She started in Canada playing for the Winnipeg South End United Soccer Club, where she was captain for five years. She’s played for Canadian national U15 and U16 teams, and in 2008 she travelled to New Zealand for the FIFA U17 World Cup.
"(Soccer) gets you away from everything else," Harrison said. "So if anything is going on, if you’re in a new place, everything on the field is similar. Even if it’s a different style of play you’re always going to be in that same setting."
Following her passion, Harrison went to Shattuck-St.Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn. for Grade 11, but returned to Vincent Massey Collegiate to be closer to friends and family.
"It wasn’t really for me," Harrison said of the small, private, sports-focused school. "I missed being home and I knew I was going to be away for four years for university."
While at Vincent Massey, Harrison also played varsity hockey but put that aside when she was offered a full ride for soccer to the University of Tennessee.
"It was different, the south is way different than home," said the centre-midfielder. "But it’s an unbelievable place. Everyone was like family down there, it’s really nice."
While with the Lady Volunteers, she quickly became one of five freshmen to start in the regular season opener. By senior year, she was team captain, named to Soccer America’s Team of the Week, named the topdrawersoccer.com’s Player of the Week (week of July 22, 2012), and Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
"American soccer is a little different than in Canada," Harrison said. "It’s all about athleticism and being strong and fast. It was very similar to Canada but very different from (Glasgow)."
After graduating with a marketing degree in July, Harrison was on a plane to Glasgow after being introduced to the Rangers coach through her Tennessee coach’s connections. Harrison said that in Glasgow, the sport is more about skill than physical power.
"It’s very technical over here," Harrison said. "It’s growing in the sense of being more physical, but they are very technical players here."
Harrison said though it was an adjustment she knows she brings her own qualities to the pitch.
"I bring a different aspect to my team," Harrison said. "I wouldn’t say it’s too hard to transition but I do have to try to bring in all the different parts of my game. The strong side of my game is not my crutch (anymore), so that’s one thing I need to work on, to be able to keep up with these players here."
She is home for Christmas for a week and a half before returning to Glasgow.
Harrison said when she grew up in Winnipeg, there weren’t as many soccer opportunities as there are now. Her advice to budding soccer stars is to stay focused.
"Just stay in it," Harrison said. "If the going is hard it’s definitely worth it. There are so many opportunities… it’s such an experience that everybody should be able to strive for it."