'You spend a long time retired' - NI Senior Ladies give advice to aspiring players

The Northern Ireland Senior Ladies have two big matches fast approaching. 

This Friday, 27th November, Kenny Shiels’ squad take on Belarus at home in the first of two crucial UEFA Women’s Euro qualifiers. On 1st December they play the Faroe Islands, again at home. 

With projects such as the Electric Ireland Game Changers campaign encouraging greater participation in the sport and the future of the game to look bright for females, The Irish News asked them to pass on the best piece of advice they ever received that could inspire younger players.

This is what they said:

Sarah McFadden, midfielder form Mahgerafelt plays for Durham FC:

“You will spend a long time retired.”  When I was 29/30 I started to consider whether I would keep playing.  I wanted to start a family and it wasn’t the norm to come back and play after this.  One of my strength and conditioning coaches knew this and she said you will spend a long time retired so prolong your career as long as you can.  I am so glad I did as I wouldn’t have been able to be a part of this last 18 months with Northern Ireland or the last few successful years I have had with my club Durham.

Marissa Callaghan, midfielder, seasoned player has captained the team:
“Don’t waste your God given talent” this always sticks in my head. I see so many talented young footballers drop out of the game and it breaks my heart. Once I thought about not playing anymore and luckily I had so many supportive people around me to help me get
focused again. I owe so much to football, I’m so thankful for those who supported me in that period. 
Lauren Wade, from Coleraine plays for Glasgow City FC, first played for Northern Ireland senior ladies in 2015:
“Appreciate how far you have come, and then you keep going. Make sure that in everything you do, you are enjoying yourself.”

Kelsie Burrows, Linfield midfielder from Comber was called up to the senior squad just over a year ago:
“Hard work and dedication can’t be taught” I felt it was very relevant especially to football because skills and tricks can be taught in training, but hard work and dedication is self-motivation.

Julie Nelson, made her international debut during the 2004 Algarve cup and in 2018 was the first female player to reach the landmark 100th appearance for Northern Ireland:

“Don’t worry about competing with other people, focus on being the best version of yourself and challenge yourself to get there.”

Joely Andrews, midfielder from Antrim is just 18 years old and made her debut for the senior side against the Faroe Islands in September:

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. I think it was my dad who told me that, it basically means that no matter how talented you are it’s no use unless you are committed and work hard to fulfil your potential.

Jackie Burns, goalkeeper 23 year old Jackie made her debut for the Northern Ireland senior team seven years ago against the Netherlands:
“Play the game, not the occasion.” I was told this when I was going through the U17 set up because playing against top level teams can be daunting. I was reminded that the pitch doesn’t change, the goals don’t change, the team doesn’t change, the only thing that does is
the opponent. You play the game like normal and don’t think about it being any bigger than the next to remind at ease. Then after you can look back and remember you played on an elite stage.

Kirsty McGuinness, age 26, plays for Sion Swifts. Younger sister Caitlin also named on the Squad aged 18, the pair will make history if they appear on the pitch together in
the two upcoming games:

The best piece of advice I have received is probably to just do something that makes you happy. You only get one chance at life and you don’t want to waste it doing something that makes you miserable.


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