The Ladies Gaelic football association was founded in 1974 were it has become one of the worlds fastest growing sports. Gaelic football was seen as a ‘mans being quite a rough and physical sport. But from the 1960’s on more and more women were taking part in sports. Camogie was also established as well as female participation in Tennis, Badminton, Tennis and more. Even with this increased female participation in sport, it did take a while before Ladies Gaelic football was taken seriously, same as the mens Gaelic football. Nowadays there are many young girls and boys all over Ireland who form tight bonds and long-term friendships from being involved in a Gaelic football team,
Karen Guthrie is a long-time player for the Donegal Senior ladies Gaelic team. Team sports like football are a great way to keep fit and healthy and make great friends. Here’s why Karen feels football is such a great physical activity.
- when did you start playing football?
I started playing football for the local club at home (Robert Emmetts) around the age of 10 after a coach from the club had been running some sessions in our primary school. It was open invitation for everyone that wanted to come along, and I loved it. They used to send a bus around the local community to pick up on a Saturday morning. I played there until I was 15.
- Where did you play (what team, did you play on your school team?)
So i started out playing club football for Robert Emmetts and transferred to Glenfin at 15/16yrs as the team in Castlefinn had folded. I had just started playing under 16 County and needed a club to play with, my groups of friends at school (we all played football together at school) had 1girl from Glenfin,2 from neighbouring Mac Cumhaills so we said we would even up the groups and I signed a temporary transfer to Glenfin; i think from memory it was made permanent when I turned 18.
- What do you like most about playing on a football team?
I love being part of a team, i love the different strengths and skills that everyone brings and the friends you make. Having that one thing that we all love that one ultimate goal and working together to achieve it. Favourite quote was from Mother Theresa – I can do things you cannot, you can do things i cannot, but together we can do great things!
- How did playing football make you feel when you were younger compared to how it makes you feel now, the same or different? If the answer is that it makes you feel different please explain in what way and why.
It wasn’t as serious when we were younger, and I definitely didn’t think half as much! My level of commitment never changed, i made the decision very early on that I wanted to play for as long as i could and whatever sacrifice that took that was it. The last 5yrs have probably been most enjoyable because the set up has become so professional. The level of preparation is so impressive now and its lovely to be part of, we’re very fortunate. I only wish it was like that 15years ago when I started out!!
- What are the main physical health benefits that playing a team sport has for a person?
Obviously, your aerobic fitness, your strength, speed and endurance will all improve. Playing in a team challenges your skills base.
- What are the main mental health benefits that playing a team sport has for a person?
Like any exercise, there’s great therapy in getting out and playing with your friends. Having a goal improves your focus and gives you a plan and structure to your life where other people are relying on you. That support mechanism from having 30+ people around is fantastic.
- Do you have to be good at sport to join a football team (non-competitive)?
Not necessarily. I feel that in any of the teams that ive played there has been such a variance in abilities and everyone brings a different skill set. Some may be very athletically fit but may not have great ball skills. And vice versa. I think within reason there’s an opportunity for anyone to try it out.
- What would your advice be for someone who wants to start playing a sport, but they think they aren’t good enough.
If you don’t back yourself, no one else will. You must believe in your ability and the rest will come. Telling yourself you aren’t good enough is only going to end one way. Believe in your talent, believe in your ability and with drive and energy -you can play anything! Start at your club, every club in the country is open to all abilities and there will always be a home for everyone there. That’s the beauty of club football.