Fife Junior side Dundonald Bluebell have had some recent good news from the Scotland Junior set-up recently, with the announcement of influential midfielder Lewis MacKenzie gaining his first call-up for his country, while also becoming the first player to do so while plying his trade at Moorside Park.
The youngster told jordanburtfootball.com about his upbringing in the beautiful game:
“I began at Boys Club level before moving to the Amateurs at 16 years old. I then joined Hill of Beath Juniors when I was 18 and after two seasons there, I moved to Dundonald Bluebell and I am just moving into my second season with them right now. Last season was great for myself, finishing on the amount of goals I did; I was also able to develop in one position and that has helped me out that I have been able to play and focus on one role all the time. I think I have done well so far.”
Heading into this season, what was Lewis’ main ambitions?
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really expecting a call-up to Scotland Juniors to be honest. I had heard a few rumours that they were coming to watch me – when they came to one of my matches, I scored a couple of goals so then I thought maybe I had a chance and then before I knew it, I had been called up. My manager [Stevie Kay] told me they were coming to watch and then I saw it all over social media as they announced the squad online and then my phone started to go mental! Considering what I done last season, I am not surprised they have come to watch me: it is a great feeling to be called up.”
“I would say, from a personal point of view, I feel as if I have got better and stronger every year, as I’ve got older,” says MacKenzie. “Playing against other countries, it’ll be great to see the standard and the professionalism of it all to play in a tournament for a few days.”
His manager at Dundonald Bluebell, Stevie Kay, had this to say on the midfielder’s call-up to the Scotland Junior side.
“This is great exposure for Lewis as well as the club itself. Dundonald is a proud and humble club, which has a great history but this is our first Scotland cap…this might also now be able to help me attract other, better, players now because they have this chance of being in the shop window now; Lewis is young to probably go further again, so, for me, that is great because if we can say to players “come sign with us because we have guys from the Scotland Juniors coming to watch us” then that can only be a benefit. For Lewis, however, he isn’t just getting it because of the goals he has scored, he is being recognised for playing in a certain brand of football and making a huge difference as there are lots of people now coming to watch us who never used to.”
“Lewis is just a young boy, in his early twenties, so any exposure will aid his effectiveness and his awareness; he is only going to get better as this will give him a look at different training methods, ideas; he is going to mix with other players, experience a different tempo and attitude, so, if that is going to help Lewis go senior or stay involved with the Scotland Junior set up then that is great because it will keep him on track and professional: it will show him that what he is doing right now is working because, clearly, his lifestyle off the park is excellent that he is gaining recognition: anything that he picks up will be worth it.”
Before MacKenzie takes part in the Umbro Quadrangular Tournament in October, the Scotland Junior side will face Linlithgow Rose this evening in a challenge match.
“It is going to be difficult for me as I don’t know anyone within the squad because they are mainly from the West – I think it is 15 out of the 20 in the squad are from there with the other 4 from the East coming from Bonnyrigg Rose and Penicuik Athletic – it will be a good opportunity to meet them all as I am the only one from the Fife side of the Queensferry Crossing,”
MacKenzie is also the first Dundonald Bluebell player to be called-up for international honours while at Moorside Park.
“The team is going to get better every year; from when I joined Dundonald a year ago, it has improved so much already. The manager and his staff have done such a great job and they have built a great team. The tournament starts on a Wednesday so I will need to miss training that week with Dundonald; I am not too sure but I think we might be getting a free week when Scotland Juniors are playing so it might not be too bad in the end!”
“I think this will be a big step up for me,” concludes MacKenzie. “It will be interesting to see the quality of the players and compare myself to them. I am the youngest in the squad, as well, so it will be nice to see how I fare up against more experienced players. I am always looking to try get the best out of myself: I want to see how far I can go and how far I can push myself. If I got the chance to go senior, I probably would.”