Sinéad spoke about the many ways in which playing this team sport benefited her throughout her teenage years. It’s a time when, statistically speaking, girls drop out of sport at 6 times the rate of boys, but it’s also a time when they most need the support that can come from being part of a team sport. According to research, many girls can suffer a crisis in confidence in their teen years and can end up quitting sports because they don’t think they are good enough. Read on to discover the benefits you can provide to your teenager if supported to push through their insecurities and persevere…the results can be life changing.

  1. Lifelong friendships are made when you join a team sport. Sinéad has been playing with some of the girls in her club for over 10 years and the bond and friendship that comes with this is unique to a team sport and can serve to be a great comfort and support to girls throughout the teenage years. As Gaelic football is a sport you can play well into adulthood these friendships can be strong and long lasting.
  2. Time-management skills: When you have school, homework, training, matches and other commitments to factor in to the day you have to learn to manage your time efficiently and prioritise accordingly. This quality is particularly important to teenagers as they deal with an increasing workload and prepares them for their life as an adult.
  3. Active social outlets to break from study and release anxiety are crucial to nourish the mental health of teenagers and increase their concentration levels. Sinéad confirms that Ladies Gaelic Football was the perfect active outlet for her as a teenager, as not only did she enjoy the sport, there was also the added bonus of meeting up with her friends. She admits that there have been times she hasn’t felt in the mood to go training for one reason or another. However, she has always made herself go and come home afterwards feeling ten times better.
  4. Setting achievable goals in life is very important to a person’s sense of well-being. Unrealistic goals will never be met and are to the detriment of our measure of self-worth. In a team sport the team set targets together. Sinéad explains that these targets aren’t always about winning every game as that just isn’t achievable. An example she gives is that you might be beaten by the county champions by a massive score difference in one match but set a target as a team to be beaten by much less of a score line on the next match day. In this way appropriate goal setting is modelled for teenagers who may then apply this to their own lives.
  5. In a society of expanding waistlines there has never been more of an emphasis on how important regular exercise is in our daily lives. There is a huge emphasis when part of a Gaelic football team on attending all trainings and matches. Unlike more solitary forms of exercise if you don’t do the training you aren’t just letting yourself down but also your teammates. Therefore the incentive sometimes needed to regularly exercise is provided by this feeling of not wanting to disappoint your mentors and team.
  6. A healthy lifestyle is much easier to practice when part of a team. Most teenage girls’ teams will be given hydration and nutritional advice by their Ladies Gaelic Football mentors and learn healthy habits from their peers on the team. The team mentality is always focussed on improvement and one aspect of this is eating healthily, sleeping well and staying hydrated for the betterment of the whole team.
  7. Learn how to deal with disappointment and defeat. Your teenager won’t always make the first team and they definitely won’t win all their matches. Sinéad Goldrick is only too aware of dealing with disappointment having not always made her club team and then losing 3 consecutive All-Ireland finals to Cork. Sinéad recalls how there has been times she has wanted to stay in the dressing room having not made the first team or crying at home after a big loss. It is important for your teenager to experience some disappoint in life so they can learn how to appropriately deal with it. In a team sport such as Ladies Gaelic Football that means holding your head up high and marching out onto the field with your teammates even when you didn’t make the first fifteen. It means shaking hands with your opponent at the end of the most important game of the year having lost by 1 point and it means turning up to training and using the disappointment to fuel your passion for the next season and the next big chance.
  8. Team bonding excursions are common in Ladies Gaelic Football and serve to further bond and cement the friendships and respect between teammates. A training session at the beach, an afternoon bowling or an intimate pizza evening are ways to allow the girls get to know each other outside the football club. Last year the Dunnamaggin U14 and U16 girls took part in an obstacle course race called the Reign of Terror in Kells, Co. Kilkenny. It was a hugely enjoyable day and one they would recommend to any team looking for something fun to do together while still keeping active. It’s an event perfect for the whole family and you can find out more information and register here.
  9. Communication skills are key in a team sport. You can’t play Gaelic Football to the best of your ability without perfecting this skill. Sinéad Goldrick emphasises how the communication skills she picked up while being part of a Gaelic Football team have stayed with her and benefited her now in the workplace as an adult.
  10. A hard work ethic is instilled. There is huge enjoyment from making a commitment to be part of a team and doing your all to make the team proud of your input. The benefits of this is that you learn to enjoy working hard to get results. It’s a great sense of satisfaction and according to 5 time All Star Sinéad, ‘There is no better feeling than the satisfaction felt from working hard as a team.’ She also emphasised that through playing a team sport you learn that ‘there are a lot of factors you can’t control but you can control your own work rate.’ That mentality is the key to success in life and it can be instilled in your teenager from a young age through playing a team sport like Ladies Gaelic Football.