In this instalment of our Women in Sport series, we hear from Dublin GAA star Carla Rowe on her journey so far, her words of wisdom for young women starting out, and the biggest misconception in women’s sport.
Carla Rowe started playing Gaelic football when she moved from Lusk to Naul at the age of 13. Immediately welcomed into Clann Mhuire GF, Rowe certainly hasn’t looked back since.
Playing gaelic football throughout school and enjoying every minute of it, Carla went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Activity in DkIT, and is currently studying in DCU to complete her Professional Masters in Education for Post Primary Teaching.
Name: Carla Rowe
Profession: Student Teacher
Earliest sporting memory?
I did gymnastics from a very young age with Skerries Gymnastic club until I was 14 and loved it. It was at gymnastics where I remember I discovered my love of competing. I often came across Sarah Mc Caffery in competitions as she was a member of the rival team, which is funny considering we played for the same team, in a different sport, years later and both remembered each other.
How did you become involved in your sport?
I moved from Lusk to Naul. Naul is a small village where Gaelic football is at the heart of the community, so I was quickly asked to join the local club, Clann Mhuire GFC, and have been playing and loving it ever since.
What message would you like to share with young women and girls interested in pursuing a career as an athlete?
Keep on trying and never give up trying to find your sport. There is a sport out there for everyone and once you find your sport, you will enjoy it and will love putting the time into it. There is a huge commitment to being an athlete, but once you love what you do, you won’t see it as an inconvenience, you just enjoy each moment.
Proudest moment so far…
Winning the 2019 All Ireland Final V Cork and Winning the Junior A Dublin championship with my club Clann Mhuire.
The female athlete I admire most is…
Katie Taylor, because she has brought women’s professional and amateur sport to a whole new level. For me, she has set new standards for women’s sport across the world whilst achieving so much and yet remaining so humble and competitive.
Favourite sporting memory?
There are honestly too many brilliant memories to name one, sport has given me some of the best memories. If I had to pick one it would be spending time celebrating with my teams, friends and family after winning a Final.
Do you think there is still a stigma around women in sport?
I think the last number of years has hugely removed the stigma around women in sport and it is continuously being improved with the help of major sporting bodies and supporting companies like Lidl, who support Ladies Gaelic football, but I do think some gaps between male and female sports do exist and we all need to continue to make the gaps smaller by increasing visibility and supporting of female sport and athletes.
What is the biggest barrier to driving visibility in women’s sports?
Perception and funding would be the two main factors that spring to mind. Many would have perceived women’s sport to be less exciting/ physical/ skilful than men’s sports which decreases the funding, sponsorship, and visibility for women’s sport. I do think this has changed as the visibility increases, viewers can now see that these opinions are incorrect and outdated. In some cases, the sport is equally, if not more skilful when women are participating compared to men, as the physicality element doesn’t play as big of a role. TG4 and Lidl have played a major role in the last number of years in breaking down these barriers, particularly for Ladies football, which is fantastic to see and makes the future of Gaelic football for young girls very exciting!
My favourite pre-game meal is pasta with pesto sauce chicken and some cheese.
My pre-game playlist includes anything that is popular at the time! I’m unfortunately not very good with playlists and music so I listen to anything that is trending.
My daily routine…
Can hugely vary and depends on if it’s a working day or not, if it’s off season or mid- season and whether I’m playing with my club or county. Right now, I do Pilates most days, go for a walk if I’m not training and am busy completing college work in any of my free time. I’m currently training with the club 3/4 times a week and am doing some extra off season work in the gym.
My biggest sporting goal is…
To win the Intermediate club championship and to win the All Ireland again with Dublin!
Sports brands I love (Irish or otherwise) …
I always wear Adidas Preds so I love Adidas, along with Urban fitness, Atak, Gym + Coffee, Sweaty Betty, Field Queens and many many more! I’m a runner addict so no sports brands are off my list!
Biggest splurge to celebrate a win was…
Buying a holiday to Miami!
How do you mind your mental health?
Exercise and socialising are the two main strategies that work for me and really help if ever I’m feeling stressed or anxious. Making sure to take some time to yourself and your mind is hugely important, as well as checking in with your body when you’re under pressure/busy.
My three desert island beauty products are:
Hairbrush, Image face moisturiser and suncream.
I need 8 hours of sleep a night because… Apart from all the endless benefits towards a healthy lifestyle that consistent sleep gives you, my recently bought Whoop watch, tracks my recovery and if I don’t get enough sleep it educates me as to how it can affect my recovery, ability to train, increased occurrence of injuries etc.
Confidence, to me, is…
Loving what you do. Enjoying taking part and getting to play in big matches where you can test all your skills at the highest level. It is believing in something and backing yourself to complete the task/ goal. Confidence is also developed through practice and repetition!
How do you get over a bad performance?
To be honest for me the trick is that I try not to give it much think time. Our minds always point out to us all the things we did wrong first. I try to begin by thinking of three things I enjoyed or three things I did well, sometimes this can take a long time, longer than it should take — I think it’s an Irish thing! Then I recognise why I’m labelling my performance as ‘bad’ by naming and writing down the aspects of my game I wasn’t happy with. Once I write them down, I make a plan as to how I will address them at training and then that’s it, you have to move on and work on the parts you weren’t happy with but also remind yourself of all the good things you’ve done too.
Lastly, why is sport such an integral part of community, on a club, local, national and personal level?
Sport, my community and everything that has come with it such as friends, family, relationships, memories etc have made me the person I am today. Sport teaches you so much about yourself and others. It gives you countless skills that you use in everyday life and it has given me amazing experiences.
Lidl Ireland’s #SeriousSupport programme is designed to increase participation of young girls at secondary school stage in ladies Gaelic football. The retailer is seeking nominations from Irish shoppers across the country that will give their chosen school the opportunity to benefit from the programme. Make your nomination before October 23, right here.