INTERVIEW | A conversation with Sarah Rowe

A transition between sports is nothing new, but Sarah Rowe’s rounded sporting interests have contributed to renowned athletic achievement.

Deeper than that, Rowe tells The Season Ticket about the profound impact GAA has had on her, her family heritage and where she sees her future lying.

Brian Strahan: Your Grandfather Paddy Jordan was an All-Ireland winner. How much of an influence was Paddy and how big a part did and does sport play in the make up of your family? 

Sarah Rowe: My Grandad had a massive impact on my sport. I remember as a child growing up, he would sit out in the garden with me and make me kick with my bad foot(left) because he said all the great players can play off both sides. I always wanted to try follow in his footsteps and play for Mayo.

So it was like a dream come true when I first played for the U12 Mayo team. My other Grandad, John Rowe, played in a minor All-Ireland in Croke Park, so we have strong GAA routes in my household.

My dad is also my greatest supporter, he lives a very hectic life with his job, where he travels a lot to China. But he bends over backwards to change flights and manage his time to get to as many matches as possible. 

BS: You have spoken in the past about the importance of mental health. How much, do you believe, can sport help contribute to strong mental health, particularly in young people?

SR: A lot, sport gives you a way of defining yourself. From being involved in a team environment with so many different personalities and people it gives you a platform to figure out who you want to be and what you want to be known for.

It can also give you lots of confidence. Don’t get me wrong there are more bad days in sport than good, but the good make it all worthwhile. It also tests your mental strength on many occasions as you go through phases of playing well/poorly and this can dictate your mood.

But the ability to bounce back from these challenges becomes easier with more experience and time. And you can get yourself into a place where no matter how high the experience or how low the experience your emotions stay {in a} very steady state and this allows you to prepare better for the highs and lows. 

BS: As someone who has played a myriad of sports, is Gaelic Football special to you in the sense of community and friendship it possesses? 

SR: Yes, 100 percent. I loved the high performance element of soccer. But GAA is who I am. The people and the friends I’ve made are so special to me and understand me probably like no other as we all share such a similar interest and as they say your oldest friends are your best friends.

I’ve grown up playing football with these girls. Other teams like soccer, I’ve came and went from , that’s what makes it so different. 

BS: Did playing for Collingwood open you to new ways of thinking. Not just in the technical aspects of playing but it in terms of attitude, ideas and the philosophy behind the game there? 

SR: Yes of course, I loved that side of things too. That difference between it being your hobby and it being your job. It was my job to do everything right over there and I had certain targets to hit every week and if you don’t hit them you simply don’t play. So that pressure for performance is that bit greater. But I loved that. Also you were being watched all the time on your behaviours off the pitch and this was just as important. 

BS: You jumped back into inter-county action immediately on your return from Melbourne, has it been an easy transition back and what impact has your time in Australia had on your game and your approach?

SR: Yes some people would call me crazy but I wanted to get straight back into as I had essentially not played football in 8 months as I had shoulder surgery before I left. So I wanted to get back to figure out where I was at and what I had to do to get back to myself.

The answer to that is, games and more games. I feel fit, but I’m out of game practice. But it’s great to be back to the girls, they have worked extremely hard over the last few months and it’s my job to fit in around that and work hard and earn my position back. 

BS: There are options and opportunity ahead for you, what though would be the ideal scenario as to what path you would like your career to take?

SR: Its every athletes dream to play professional sport , I would love if that could be GAA, but that’s not realistic. So I’ve signed a contract for another season with Collingwood, but I will be back again next year in the green and red.

It’s unlikely that I will be able to do this forever as at some stage I will get pressure from either side. So I will take it day by day as of now and see what unfolds after that.