March 18, 2020 3 min read
Playing sports runs in the veins but 28 year old Irish rugby international, Eimear Considine didn’t settle on her current rugby pursuit until the very end of 2016 when she made her debut for Munster. Prior to that, she was on the Irish 7’s squad, played camogie and Ladies Gaelic in Limerick and her (very slightly) younger sister Ailish is now a rising AFL star for the Adelaide Crows.
In addition to her domination of Irish rugby, Eimear is also a full-time teacher in Dublin and is now lending her voice and story to the Tackle Your Feelings campaign, an initiative set up to provide resources and support and to help break down stigma surrounding mental health and wellbeing. When she was just 14, Eimear witnessed the death of her father after he suffered a heart attack while she + sister Ailish were with him on a Lahinch beach. She says the experience shaped her, as you’d imagine it would, and since then she’s had times where she felt she was struggling to keep afloat.
“It’s such an intense schedule with work and with training… You’re thinking about the game and you’re living life too. Not getting a mental break [is hard]. I want to jump at every opportunity but I’m learning to say no.”
Peak point of burnout came in September 2016 and since then, Eimear has begun placing greater weight on maintaining balance in both her professional and personal life. The lot of the female athlete often means a full-time job plus full-time training + playing, “It’s such an intense schedule” says Eimear, “with work and with training… You’re thinking about the game and you’re living life too. Not getting a mental break [is hard]. I want to jump at every opportunity but I’m learning to say no.”
Sharing her thoughts on how to find that balance is something that is new to Eimear but seems to come very naturally. As a PE teacher at an all girls school she places as much focus on skill improvement as she does theory and commitment. Her experience as an elite rugby player has helped her in passing down knowledge to a younger generation too: make your decisions and commit to them 100%.“[Women’s Head Coach] Adam Griggs has this thing, if you’re in two minds about whether to pass or carry, you won’t do either justice. But if you do something at 100%, it’s never going to be the wrong decision.”
“If you’re in two minds about whether to pass or carry, you won’t do either justice. But if you do something at 100%, it’s never going to be the wrong decision.”
She takes this mentality and applies it to her training and to her classroom. Giving it her all and encouraging her students to do the same,“It’s not about being the best at everything or overall. [I tell my students] try to pick a skill or an action and practice [it]. Get better at that one thing and measure your improvement on that.” Building a sense of community on and off the field she says, helps young athletes to find their feet and gain the confidence to try new things. Eimear is creating a space in her classroom for girls to dip their toes in different sports + exercise - whether it be full-contact rugby or dance lessons - providing a place for girls and young women to feel good about their skills, talent and enjoyment without the requirement for ‘being the best’.
“My cousin took her 7-year-old daughter to the Irish Men’s open training day at Thomond Park. She thought they were going to see the women play and was devastated when she realised it was the men playing! That’s experience and exposure.”
Exposure to female athletes and the ways in which we talk about women’s sports is key to raising the profile in Ireland and globally. The stories we tell our kids and the experiences we offer them, says Eimear, shape their approach to what’s accepted as worth-watching or supporting. Relaying a snippet from her own life, Eimear sums up how important it is to offer space and a platform for budding female athletes + supporters of sport.“My cousin took her 7-year-old daughter to the Irish Men’s open training day at Thomond Park. She thought they were going to see the women play and was devastated when she realised it was the men playing! That’s experience and exposure.”
We’re here for all of that. On the pitch, in the classroom, or as a spokesperson, Eimear Considine is one to watch.
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