Happy New Year, I know that I have started off the New Year in a good way. I just left La Manga, Spain for a training camp with the Irish national team. Not a bad place to be in January if you ask me. We played two unofficial matches this week against Holland and England. Although we lost both, Holland 3-0 and England 1-0, we got to play all of our players and try a few new things out before the serious matches come around in March during the Cyprus cup and most importantly our next WCQ in April.
So what goes on during an international training camp? A lot of training, eating and sleeping. Teams will be tested on their cardio, strength, agility, and flexibility. It is important to do this in the beginning of the year because it give you something to set goals for and measure your improvement throughout the year. For an international team it is a great opportunity to work on things that you don’t get a chance to work on during the rest of the year. New or younger players get a chance to play which is a luxury that can’t always be afforded later in the year. All the other times that you meet up it is usually to prepare for a game that is 5 days away. Maybe if you are a country that invest lots into their women’s national team then you have the luxury of having a few of these types of training camps each year. But if you are playing for a country like Ireland that is still recovering from an economic melt-down, which entails bending over and take it from the IMF and ECB, then there isn’t a lot of money left over for women’s football training camps.
Probably the best part about all of this is it usually happens at a really beautiful resort and that has amazing weather. Check out the view http://instagram.com/p/jcvB6kg29v/
Although we are all in camp to train and improve the squad, Irish people do not lose perspective on what is probably the 2nd (for some maybe first most) most important thing, ‘getting some colour’. Although it is not encouraged, in fact we are told not to, everyone seems to be finding time everyday to lay out and get some time in the sun. Winter can be tough and dark across most of the Northern Hemisphere which equals very pale skin. But if you are from Ireland the cold, rainy weather is not just a winter thing it is an 11 months, and 2 weeks of the year kind of thing.
If you haven’t seen this picture before, this pretty much explains what life can be like if your from Ireland.
Caught some of our girls red handed from the the 3rd floor of one of the villas.
The Irish, English and Dutch were not the only teams in La Manga. Other team such as the Norway WNT, some youth German teams and men’s side Dortmund were training along side us. All with the same aim as Ireland, connect and prepare for 2014. I am sure there were other teams out enjoying a bit of sunshine as well, definitely remember seeing some red faces on the English team (and some orange ones, easy on the fake tanner there girlie’s!).
As I start this new year and reflect on this past training camp I think its is important to maintain balance in 2014. Yes set priorities, fitness goals, and prepare to take over the world in 2014. But also remember to enjoy your time with your team-mates and your fleeting moments in the sun.
Professional footballer for SC Freiburg in the German Frauen Bundesliga. Fiona is also a member of the Irish Women’s National Football Team. As well as competing at the highest level in women’s football, Fiona also owns her own soccer school ‘Fiona’s Soccer Camp’.