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McLaughlin back in the game

After a lengthy stint on the sidelines, former Football Fern and Claudelands Rovers star Sarah McLaughlin is back playing the game she loves.

In July 2013, turning out for Claudelands against Glenfield in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League, the prolific goal scorer found herself in a moment she’d rather forget.

“I suffered an injury to my left knee whilst changing direction and lunging to make a tackle mid-way through the first half,” says McLaughlin.

Having thought the worst, McLaughlin was given some hope when the doctor at the A&E advised her it was just a strained MCL. That was until her physio sent her for a MRI which resulted in the talented striker being given the worst news of her football career.

“It was a complete rupture of my ACL, severe tear and strain of my MCL, significant bone bruising along with damage to my meniscus and a dislocated knee cap. This resulted in reconstruction surgery and a 11-month rehab programme.”

Following her recovery, and in the process of easing back into full game time, McLaughlin re injured the same knee and was forced to watch from the sidelines for another lengthy period.

“The second injury was much the same as the first in terms of diagnosis and again required surgery and a lengthy rehab.”

“Unfortunately, the second time around my recovery was a lot longer due to the close succession of the injuries and some continuous pain resulting from a tear in my meniscus that didn’t repair as well as we hoped.”

So, three and a half years on McLaughlin is back in the game and admits it wasn’t an easy journey.

“Emotionally and psychologically it has been a roller-coaster and to date it it probably one of the hardest things I have had to deal with in my life.”

“Football was my life and what I had dedicated and sacrificed a lot of my time for. I found it hard to find my identity outside of football and not having it as an outlet was something I really struggled with.”

Her dedication and sacrifices saw her represent New Zealand at U-17 and U-20 level as well as turning out for the Football Ferns.

“Being released from the Football Ferns squad and losing my carded athlete status during my rehab threw another curve ball in the mix making it hard to source that professional support I needed to ensure my rehab was a success.”

“Rehab was draining both physically and mentally. It was a case of one step forward and two steps back at points and this made the initial stages extremely tough and frustrating.”

“There were times I would be in the middle of a strengthening session and I’d completely break down into tears because I couldn’t do some of the things I took for granted before my injury.”

“I really had to rely on my family and friends for their support and guidance,” she says.

After a long pre-season, McLaughlin took to the field in round one against Forrest Hill Milford for her first competitive match since her injury.

“Being back on the field feels great and the Claudelands girls have been awesome in supporting my return to play. My knee felt good given it was my first competitive game back from injury and I feel my confidence will only grow with each game and training.”

McLaughlin and her Rovers team mates take on Hamilton Wanderers in the first WaiBOP derby of the season this Good Friday.

Match Information

Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League

Friday 14 April
Hamilton Wanderers vs Claudelands Rovers
Porritt Stadium, 1pm

Photo courtesy of Phototek NZ