A 14-YEAR-OLD girl’s dream of becoming a professional footballer is in the balance after a trampolining accident left her with a torn ACL and MCL in her left knee, resulting in a two-year wait for surgery.

Mckenzie Wood, from Tranent, was on top of the world when she signed for Hibernian FC’s U16s National Performance Team in January.

But her dreams were dashed when she suffered a serious injury in a trampoline accident during a PE lesson at Ross High School last month.

Her mum Stephanie Armstrong said that the teenager had been excited to begin her football career, “which she had worked extremely hard for”, but now faced several years of physiotherapy and a long waiting list for crucial surgery to fix the damage.

She added that football hadn’t always been Mckenzie’s career goal and, at the age of eight, she wanted to be a runner “just like her papa Dod”.

She said: “Papa Dod was so amazed at her running skills he wanted to get her into a running club.”

Mckenzie attended Musselburgh Running Club and at age 10 began playing football with her school friends before joining Tranent Colts in 2018 at the age of 11.

Her papa, known by East Lothian residents as iron man George (Dod) Armstrong, passed away in 2019.

Stephanie, a hairdresser, said: “Unfortunately, continuing running was extremely hard for Mckenzie without her papa by her side, so she gave this up and turned all her time to football.”

East Lothian Courier: Mckenzie is refusing to give up on her football career

Following her recent accident, the youngster was taken to hospital for an X-ray and MRI scan, which revealed she had torn her medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Since then, Mckenzie has undergone three weeks of physiotherapy.

Last week, she visited an orthopaedic doctor at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh who informed her that the best course of action to regain full use of the leg – and to return to the field and the sport she loves so much – was to have an operation to fix the damaged ligaments.

Unfortunately, things were not as straightforward as they first seemed.

Stephanie said: “The doctor told us that after surgery Mckenzie could return to light training with no game time and continue with physiotherapy for between six and 12 months depending on how she healed.

“We were more than happy to continue with these plans until we were told that the waiting list to have this operation would be one to two years due to Covid.

“Mckenzie is heartbroken because she could be out of football for up to three years, making her 17 when she returns.”

Reaching out to the community

They later learnt that Mckenzie could ‘go private’ for the operation, meaning she would get the surgery quickly but at a significant cost.

Stephanie is now reaching out to the community and seeking their financial help to get her daughter back on the field.

Before her accident, Mckenzie trained twice a week with Hibs and played a game every Saturday.

Stephanie said: “Mckenzie eats, sleeps and breathes football and if she has to wait years to get back into it I fear she may lose interest or, even worse, it will start to affect her mental health.

“Even when she wasn’t at Hibs training, she was out with a ball.

“Mckenzie picked PE in school for S3 and S4 but, since her accident, she’s been sitting on the bench watching.

'She seems like a lost wee soul'

“She’s not allowed to play football or any sport that could continue to make her injuries worse.

“I have seen a different side to Mckenzie these past few weeks: she seems like a lost wee soul, all because she can’t play football.

“Mckenzie told me that football is her ‘happy place’ and without it she feels numb.”

Stephanie added that she had been left feeling helpless as a mother because she was unable to fix the injury for Mckenzie.

She said: “I will do everything I can to help Mckenzie to get back onto the playing field where she belongs.

“I appreciate everyone has their own circumstances but anything anyone could donate would be greatly appreciated.”

The family aims to raise £6,000 for the operation and, already, more than £600 has been donated.

Go to gofundme.com/f/accident-could-ruin-teens-football-career to donate.