Rachel Corsie: The CA who became a professional footballer

Rachel Corsie
By Robert Outram, CA Magazine

8 June 2016

It’s a game of two halves as Rachel Corsie puts her CA career on hold to become a professional footballer in the US. Robert Outram reports.

Combining the CA course with a serious commitment to sport takes some effort. Combining that training with the dream of playing at professional and national level – and making that dream a reality – takes an extraordinary amount of determination.

Rachel Corsie CA has achieved just that. She qualified as a CA, and now plays in defence for Seattle Reign, one of the top teams in women’s football in the world, as well as earning more than 80 caps representing Scotland.

The US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is one of the richest women’s leagues on the planet. As Rachel explains: “There are more resources, there’s more money for the clubs. The game in the US generates more interest, more support and, therefore, more funding.”

Seattle Reign was among the first eight teams when the league was inaugurated back in 2013. It took its name from a former basketball team, which was the first professional women’s sports team in Seattle

The club won the NWSL Shield – awarded to the team scoring the most points in the league – in 2014 and 2015.

Meanwhile, the Scottish women’s team is closer than ever to reaching the finals of a major tournament, currently topping its group in qualifying for Euro 2017, which will be hosted next year by the Netherlands.

So when did she first think she had a future as a professional footballer?

Rachel says: “From the time I was finishing at school and starting university, it was something I wanted to do. But I decided to continue with my accounting degree and then my CA exams. I am 100 per cent glad that I did my CA exams, but it did mean I had to delay the point at which I went professional.”

As part of her degree course at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Rachel had a year’s placement with EY, and she returned to the firm after graduating.

Rachel recalls: “I was playing for Glasgow City part-time and working for EY. I had a lot of support from Jim Bishop [at the time, senior partner with EY in Scotland and Northern Ireland], all through that time. I was very open about what I wanted to do, and Jim and the other partners were very receptive. They offered me a lot of flexibility when I needed it for away matches, training and so on. I was using all my leave for my football.”

Rachel Corsie

Jim Bishop said: “She brought something different to the party, but there was clearly a challenge, in that Rachel had a lot of commitments outside work, such as international away games, training with the Scottish women’s team in Cyprus, and so on.

“I had seen how supportive KPMG had been of my son, Jamie, who had been playing football at semi-professional level as well as studying for the CA. Why were we supporting Rachel? Because it was the right thing to do. She has proved that it is possible to combine sport at a serious level with CA training, and she passed her exams first time.”

Combining a sporting career with CA training

Of course, while Rachel had the innate talent to succeed, to take this route demanded more than just talent. As she puts it herself: “One of the most important things was to be open and honest, with the people around me, about what I wanted to achieve.

“It can be a really stressful period and it’s OK to ask for help. To combine a sporting career with a professional qualification takes a large amount of planning and rational thinking, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices.”

Rachel’s move to full-time football came in 2014, when she transferred from Glasgow City to capitan Notts County Ladies.

In the women’s game, however, it’s not England but the US that represents the big time. When Rachel was approached by Seattle Reign’s head coach Laura Harvey – a former head coach at Arsenal Ladies in England – it was an opportunity too good to miss.

Rachel says: “Playing in the US had long been a goal for me, so I jumped at the chance.”

As a professional footballer, Rachel’s training as a CA is not something she uses day to day, but it is still important to her.

Rachel stresses: “I am proud of what I achieved because I know how hard I worked for it. And I do want to use my CA qualification in future; it’s something that will be a key part of the next exciting chapter of my life.

“My dream job – after my playing career – would be to be a finance director at a football club somewhere in the world. I’d really like to combine my two sets of skills.”

The full version of this article appears in the June 2016 edition of CA magazine.

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