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I Am Determined To Make Sure Every Player Feels Valued - McCatty

Recently-named Bristol Academy captain, Grace McCatty, speaks to Bristol Sport about the challenges of taking back the armband, and looks ahead to the 2015 season.

Current England and ex-Academy manager Mark Sampson took the armband away from Grace McCatty five years ago and passed it to Corinne Yorston, but with the latter’s recent exit, the responsibility has come full circle

She said: “When Mark awarded Corinne the captaincy, as much as I was disappointed, I understood his decision. Corinne is someone that I look up to and respect on and off the pitch.

“It is an absolute privilege to have been named captain again, something that I was pleasantly surprised by. It will be an honour to lead the girls this year. To say I’m excited would be an understatement, the team and club has come so far from five years ago and I have a feeling this year will be our best yet.”

Season 2015 and the role of captaincy couldn’t have started any better for McCatty, albeit in a pre-season friendly against WSL 2 side Reading last Sunday. McCatty skippered the team and several new team-mates to a 1-0 victory and, as was written in the stars, scored the winning goal.

“I do hope it will be the start of a special year for me,” She said “I couldn’t have wished for it to go any better, being captain, keeping a clean sheet and scoring the goal.”

The high turnover of Academy players has been a feature of note for Academy in the off-season, with departures including former captains Jemma Rose and Corinne Yorston as well as top-scorer Natalia Pablos Sanchon. McCatty knows what an important feature the squad’s atmosphere will play in a successful season following this turbulence.

McCatty added: “A team social away from the training field is 100% needed. We are still deemed semi-professional players, a number of us balance our football with jobs, studying and family commitments. It is essential we all get to know each other and what we have happening in our lives away from football. This will allow us to be more appreciative of each other’s demands, which in turn will enable the new players to settle quicker.

“One thing the team has always been known for is our togetherness on and off the pitch. This is something I am keen to ensure we continue this year. I am determined to make sure every player feels valued and are aware that they have a role to play, no matter how big or small, in enabling us to achieve success. As a team sport it is so important we enjoy each other’s success.”

Despite all of the challenges Grace is confident ahead of the 2015 season, which will see the club compete in the Champions League quarter-final against Frankfurt in March and look to improve on last year’s seventh-placed finish.

“I think we are all disappointed with how our league campaign finished,” she conceded “Despite some positive performances the results didn’t go our way. The team performances finally came together for our Champions League games and I am hoping those results against Barcelona can be the base from which we build this season’s campaign. It was a transitional year in 2014 as we adjusted to life under a new manager (Dave Edmondson). I believe we will be up there competing with the best in every competition this year.”

That transitional period saw McCatty as one of the team’s most consistent performers and now that things are beginning to finally settle at the club, McCatty doesn’t hold back in her praise for Edmondson.

She said: “I think my positive season last year was heavily attributed to the faith the manager put in me. It makes a massive difference to know your manager and team-mates trust and believe in you to do a job as it allows you to go out, relax and just enjoy performing. The 2013 season wasn't one of my best and last year I decided just to enjoy it and believe in myself and I am glad to say I think it paid off.

 “My aim as a player has and will always be to play at the highest level and it’s amazing that I am able to do that with Bristol at the moment. I will be exploring the potential to play abroad during the FA WSL off-season later this year, which will complement my journey in becoming the best player I possibly can for Bristol Academy.

“I have had the chance to play for England at under-19 and under-23 level and ultimately I hope that happens for the senior team. But for the time being I just need to focus on performing consistently well for Bristol and trust that if and when the international door opens it will be at the right time.”

McCatty attributes her inspiration to her dad, who supported and motivated her throughout her career.

She added: “My biggest inspiration is my dad. He kick-started my love for football by supporting, encouraging and taking me to training and games. His belief and pride in me and what I can achieve only inspires me to want to be better.”

Grace has more immediate mountains to climb though, as Academy will begin their two-legged quarter-final against world heavyweights and two-time winners Frankfurt at Ashton Gate on Saturday, March 21st 2pm.

“I have the honour of leading the team out,” She said: “We have pleasantly surprised a lot of people en-route to where we are now. It is two 90 minute matches and we have every capability of being the best team on the day and getting the result we want.”

To get your tickets to Academy’s game against Frankfurt click here, or for information about Bristol Academy season tickets for the 2015 season click here.