Not many things will get me up early on a cold wet and windy Sunday morning in January but football is the one thing that will.
I have been playing Gaelic football since I can remember for my local club St Marys Burren.
My family has always been involved with our local club from playing to supporting. From a young age I have always been interested in sport from swimming to Irish dancing to netball to gymnastics but football has been the one sport that I have always had a passion for and enjoyed playing.
I would encourage anyone to join a football team or to take up a sport or even re-join one as the benefits are life long and worth every session training in the cold and wet!!
Four key life benefits that playing sport brings:
- Working as a teamIt goes without saying that working as part of a team is key when playing football and most team sports for that matter. This is a quality that is rhymed off at many job interviews but playing football instils the skills working and communicating within a team and how your strengths can be part of something greater and work with others to achieve a common goal.
- Exercise mental and physical health
An obvious one but training 2- 3 nights a week with a match at the weekend does bring your physical fitness levels up and there is no better feeling than feeling fit – all the shuttle run sprints are worth it come championship in the summer.
An aspect that is often over looked is mental health. Sport plays an incredible role on the state of your mental health. The positive effects playing sport has is often forgotten or down played, anytime I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed with work or university as soon as I put on my football boots I become focused and determined to do well in training it helps take my mind off whatever is making my feel stressed or anxious and helps me realise that there are other things going on in life and not to get bogged down on the negative aspects.
- Social Aspect:
One of the best things about playing football and sport in general is the friendships you make along the way. I have been playing football with some of these girls since primary school!
The craic that you manage to have even when you doing hill sprints up the side of the Mourne Mountains just shows how strong the bond with your team mates can be. It is something that shouldn’t be undervalued the friendships you make with people in your local club and parish, some of the best nights out our nights with my team mates whether it be our annual dinner dance or club fundraising nights.
- Being part of something bigger
The GAA is a fantastic organisation to be part of. With a GAA club set up in most countries around the world it is a large organisation that still has the feel of a grassroots organisation with the local clubs the heart and soul of the GAA. My club St Marys Burren motto is “Ar Aghaidh le Cheile” which means forward together. This motto is something that is strongly practised within the club and whilst playing as part of our team. Playing support has instilled a sense of commitment and belonging to something bigger.
My advice (although slightly bias) for anyone reading this is to consider taking up a sport, it is never too late or for those who have fallen away to consider re-joining you cannot put into words the advantages that sport brings to your life so why not get stuck in!!
Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a Final Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at University of Ulster. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-fitzpatrick-0b8682110/