Despite being retired from the game Littlewoods Ireland Ambassador Anna Geary hasn’t lost her camogie roots. These days Anna may be spending more time jiving than playing, as she is a hot contender on RTE’s Dancing With The Stars, however, what she’s learned from her days playing camogie have been the making of her, and the phenomenal career she has made for herself.
Anna is passionate about promoting the game of camogie, just as are we in Littlewoods Ireland through our sponsorship of the Camogie Leagues. Here the Cork native recalls to us the challenges and sacrifices she’s faced with her sport. More importantly though she speaks of the strength, skill and life lessons she developed during her time on the pitch.
What inspires you in your sport and in life?
That’s quiet a difficult question! I think ultimately what inspires me is people that go out and challenge themselves to try new things. Even if they know that there’s a good chance that they mightn’t necessarily be the best at it. In sport we connect with people that are very real, and that give everything of themselves. When I was playing that was the type of person that I looked up to.
Like Sonia O’Sullivan when I was growing up. Every time she took to the race track she gave it her absolute all. She didn’t always win but she was someone I aspired to be like. I very quickly learned that I wasn’t meant to be a long distance runner, but she was someone that showed me when you put in the work and work to the best of your ability then you’re going to be as close to success as you possibly can be.
In what ways have new sponsors added to the development of camogie?
I think that Littlewoods Ireland, who are now in their second year of sponsoring the Camogie Leagues, have allowed people to look at camogie from a different perspective. Fashion is all about expression, challenging yourself, and evolving. Camogie is the exact same. I’ve played camogie for 25 years now and my style on the pitch has evolved, just like my style off the pitch.
What Littlewoods Ireland are doing is bringing camogie to a wider audience. They’re allowing girls that might be interested in fashion but not neccesarily in sport to start paying attention to it. That’s what we want to do, we want younger girls and women to take up camogie, and more importantly we want women to stay playing the game.
I’m really excited for what they’re going to do this year. I think what they’ve done in 2017 has brought camogie to a new level, and as one of the main sponsors they’re showing people that you can identify with players, to get to know the person behind the player, and get to know their personality through their fashion, through what they do on and off the pitch. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do this year.
What challenges have you faced with your sport?
I think the challenge that you face with your sport is that you are always trying to be better. You’re always trying to get that extra edge. Every year that you come back it’s about finding the motivation to keep going. That’s something that every individual struggles with in different ways. I think you’re always trying to better yourself when playing camogie. That was something I found frustrating if there were times that my performance didn’t match what I thought it should be in my head.
There is such fantastic talent and skill in camogie, and one of the biggest challenges we face as players is getting the game out there more. We want more people to recognise it, watch it and pay attention to it, because the sheer athleticism and skill that’s involved in the game. Until you go to a match you won’t actually appreciate it. So, having sponsors like Littlewoods Ireland involved allows us now to widen the remit and allows more people to get interested in the game. Hopefully in turn now more spectators will go to matches and take up the sport themselves.
What sacrifices have you made for your sport?
There are plenty of sacrifices! But, to be honest with you all jokes aside, I don’t call them sacrifices. I’ve put a lot into camogie but I’ve gotten so much more out of it. It’s helped me in my job, in education, with my own resilience, and my bounce-back-ability because everybody fails in their sport. Everybody makes mistakes and what it allows you to do is improve. One of the things that I do have to sacrifice is my nails! You can’t have long nails and play camogie, but I think that’s a very small sacrifice.
When I look back on everything that I’ve done over the last two decades of playing- which sounds so long- I notice that I got so many opportunities because of it. I’ve gotten opportunities to travel, meet my heroes, stand alongside the best players in the game and be acknowledged as one of them. My own confidence levels and social skills developed too. I met some of my best friends on the fields of camogie, either playing with them or against them.
Can you describe your style of play (on or off the pitch) in 3 words?
I would have to say that mine apply both on and off the pitch. The first is determined. No matter what I’m doing I’ll always try to give the best of myself. I love a challenge and I’ll never back down from it.
Second is energetic. As a wing back I always had plenty of running to do on the pitch, and off the pitch high energy is really important when you’re meeting people and giving a good first impression. I’m probably one of the louder members of my friend group!
The last one would be collaborative. I’ve grown up in a team environment all my life, and when I work I love working with different people and meeting new people. I think it’s that idea of two heads are better than one. So they would be my three- determined, energetic and collaborative.
Littlewoods Ireland are the proud sponsor of the National Camogie Leagues. For more information check out our Twitter page.