McGuinness sisters hope to play together for Northern Ireland
Ahead of the Northern Ireland Women's football team's two crucial UEFA Women's Euro qualifiers against Belarus (Friday, November 27) and Faroe Islands (Tuesday December 1), we caught up with sisters Caitlin and Kirsty McGuinness who are named in Kenny Shiels's squad for these important games.
The west Belfast women are already used to playing together, both for Linfield Ladies and now for Sion Swifts, whom they both signed for in August of this year.
However, if they play on the pitch together in either forthcoming international match they will be changing the game, becoming the first pair of sisters to play for Northern Ireland in the same match.
Both forwards, there are seven years between the Lenadoon ladies, with Kirsty first getting the call-up to play for Northern Ireland in 2010 and 18-year-old Caitlin getting her first senior cap just last year. They tell us of their hopes for women's football, a little of what they make of each other's play and how Caitlin thinks her big sister has helped her game.
Growing up did you always love football? What other sports do you play/enjoy?
Caitlin: I've always enjoyed playing football from a young age, but I also had a lot of success playing Gaelic football for St. Paul's.
Kirsty: Yeah,I've always loved football and I have played for as long as I can remember, it's a big thing in our family everyone is involved in it somehow. I have also played Gaelic football from I was about eight; again it's something that is important in our family.
You have two matches coming up in quick succession now, how is training going for those?
Caitlin: Everyone is working hard and is prepared for two tough games. There's a good positive energy within the squad during training and we're hoping to take it into the games
Did you train together during lockdown?
Kirsty: We didn't really train together we just sort of did our own thing but every time one of us did some training, whether it was a run or shooting practice, the other always wanted to go out and better it because we are very competitive with each other.
Is there a difference in playing together in club matches and International matches?
Caitlin: Training isn't much different; We haven't actually played together internationally yet, but I guess it would be a lot different from playing together in club.
Do you give each other advice and take it on board?
Caitlin: Yeah we help each other both on and off the pitch and Kirsty would give me a lot advice on how I could improve my game. She helped me a lot coming into senior football as she has plenty of experience and she continues to help me now.
Kirsty: I try to give Caitlin advice because I have been around the game a very long time and I'm always wanting her to improve but I'm not sure how good she is at actually listening to me and taking it on board!
Do you always agree with each other's style of play?
Caitlin: We agree most of the time, but there are rare occasions when we would disagree. Although I think both our styles of play complement each other well.
Kirsty: I think we do yes, we are both the type of player who like to run with the ball and get chances on goal and I think we both know each other's style of play well. We tend to combine a lot for each other's goals.
What has been your football highlight so far?
Caitlin: There's been a lot of highlights within the last year but making my competitive international debut against Norway last November definitely sticks out in my mind.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Kirsty: 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.
What are your hopes for the future of the women's game in NI?
Caitlin: I think the future is really bright for the women's game here. The support that we have had from our sponsor Electric Ireland through the Game Changers campaign is really changing the game at all levels, increasing participation. Hopefully that will continue to be the case with our success in this competition and we'll see many more young girls inspired to get involved.
Kirsty: My hopes for the women's games in NI would be that it keeps growing and eventually becomes as big as the professional leagues so that it can attract top players from all over the world. I also hope that the national team qualifying becomes a regular thing.