Friday, August 24, 2018

Rianna Jarett on loving football and why there's no racism in Irish women's football

Rianna Jarrett in action PIC Inpho via

Anyone who plays sport dreads the phrase "ACL injury" but recently I met with someone who's done her ACL three times  - yes, three separate injuries and recuperation but Rianna Jarrett is still playing football for Ireland.

Each injury sounded pretty nasty, just the unexpected way that injury imposes itself on an everyday twist during a match.

And a heart-wrenching admission when Rianna says she told her phyiso after the third injury - "I'd be happy to get back knocking the ball about on the street, and not getting injured." Luckily her team saw past the injury and brought her back to full power, but it says a lot about what injury can do to your mental health.

When we met she was in between games, but back on the international panel after months of rehab. From Wexford, she plays with the Wexford Youths but her goal is always the green shirt.

Her determination shone out last year when she got a last-minute  - the day before the flight - call to the Irish FISU university football squad.

Only coming back after her most recent injury, she says: "I was just back with Wexford. It was just such a relief to be back on the pitch, and going again. It's about not having to wince when you go in for the tackle. I was not thinking about playing for Ireland, and I'd missed the first trials anyhow that year."

But when the call came, she didn't hesitate: "I got the call at 21:30 saying can you be at the airport at 11:00am? So yeah, packed the bag and was on the bus to Dublin that night. I really wanted to go, it was Ireland and it was my last chance to play at FISU  - it was my last year at college."

The football world is constantly striving to fight racism, but when I bring this up with Rianna - who is of mixed-race bacground - she just laughs. She says: "I've never experienced any racism in football, it's not something that's part of the women's games. Maybe we are more down to earth, the supporters you know. You would never see it at a women's game, the women's supporters are such a close-knit group ."

She says male friends of hers and family who are involved in the League of Ireland have experienced name-calling and verbal abuse, but nothing in the women's side. She pointed to the diversity of the Irish women's team, and said people just focus on the football. And added: "Online too, I've never had abuse, nothing."

Follow Rianna Jarrett on Twitter

I spoke with Rianna for this story with the ITimes, read it in full here. 


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