Republic of Ireland WNT players supporting their former colleges & universities (from left to right: Niamh Farrelly – DCU, Claire O’Riordan – IT Carlow, Louise Quinn – UCD, Amber Barrett – Maynooth University) SPORTSFILE
|Balancing football with education is something that is extremely important to the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team. And they want more girls to follow the same path.|
Over 80 per cent of the players in Vera Pauw’s most recent squad have come through the Third Level system and it is a trend that the Football Association of Ireland is working hard to maintain.
Having started out at colleges & universities around the country, the majority of the Ireland players are now with professional clubs abroad and have earned qualifications that will set them up for life after football.
With the next CAO deadline coming up on May 1st, the current set of Ireland players want to encourage the next generation to follow in their footsteps by exploring their Third Level options.
Amber Barrett, who has 21 senior caps and plays for FC Koln in Germany, studied at both Maynooth University and DCU – earning a BA in English & History and a Msc in Education. So she knows all about combining football with education.
“It was always my dream to represent my country at the highest level and to test myself professionally in football. But I didn’t want to give up my education, because that is really important to me. So it was fantastic that I was able to combine both whilst still living in Ireland,” said Barrett.
“Yes there is a lot of hard work involved but that is only natural if you want to succeed at the top level. I was lucky enough to benefit from the support of everyone at Maynooth University and DCU, as well as Peamount United who I played for at the time. Without that support structure I would have struggled but it is there in all of the colleges & universities around the country.
“A career in professional football is a short one, so you need to be prepared for what comes next. Thankfully a lot of my hard work has given me future opportunities to explore with the qualifications that I have secured. And my football was not affected along the way.”
FAI Schools and Third Level Programme Coordinator John McGuinness said: “Colleges and Universities across Ireland continue to offer a number of sports scholarships to male and female elite level players.
“Football is a very short career and players need to have an eye on what they are going to do after they hang up their boots. It is great for players to have the opportunity to continue their playing and academic careers in tandem here in Ireland.”
As the current WNT squad can attest, combining education with a playing career is achievable and most definitely worthwhile.
Click here for a list of key contacts at each college and university
Republic of Ireland forward Rianna Jarrett promoting the pursuit of Third Level Education
by wearing the jersey of her former college, IT Carlow SPORTSFILE