Belfast Telegraph

Meet the NI u19 captain ahead of the UEFA 2017 women's championship final

By Ali Gordon

With the UEFA Women’s Under 19 Championship 2017 finishing this weekend we caught up with the Northern Ireland u19 captain Emma McMaster to find out more about what playing in the tournament has meant to her and how her team and other girls’ teams in Northern Ireland are changing the game for females.

 “The Championship has been a great opportunity for women’s football. It’s the first European finals any U19 Women’s Northern Irish team have participated in, so to be able to lead out the team at Windsor Park was unbelievable,” says Emma McMaster.

Emma has been playing football from a very young age and when speaking to her it is clear that football is a sport that has been enjoyed by her and her family over the years.

“It was mainly my sister who inspired me to play football. From the age of four I would have played football out the back garden with her,” she says.

Almost 15 years later, it is probably hard for Emma to believe that she is now playing on a national level and as the captain of the Northern Ireland U19 team.

However, the young footballer seems to be taking everything in her stride and is delighted at the fortitude her young team gave in the competition.

“We had worked hard as a team in the lead up to the tournament and to play against international outfits as talented as Spain, Germany and Scotland in front of a huge home crowd was incredible.”

As lead sponsor of Women’s Grassroots Football across Northern Ireland and Official Sponsor of the UEFA Women’s Under 19 Championship 2017, Electric Ireland wants to be a Game Changing force for how women’s football is perceived in Northern Ireland.

Electric Ireland’s Game Changers campaign aims to break down the perceptions that exist around women’s football and celebrates the Game Changers within women’s football in Northern Ireland.

At such a young age, it is impressive to see someone like Emma lead a team and give so much commitment to the sport.

She will no doubt inspire many young girls and be a game changer for women’s football and sport. With that in mind, we asked Emma to share who the #GameChangers in her life have been over the years.

“When I was younger my personal game changers would have been the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard,” says Emma. “However, now the senior women’s team have improved so much, I definitely look to them for inspiration.”

When we asked Emma what inspiration she would share with any young girls following in her footsteps, she says, “Go out and enjoy it. Keep working hard and if you want it bad enough it will happen for you.”

Of course, for any budding footballer it is important to look after themselves and when speaking to Emma she did share some of her best tips: “Get lots of rest and make sure you recover well after every game. Make sure your body is prepared by eating what is healthy and good for you.”

Have you any personal #GameChangers? Share any on Facebook or Twitter page by using the hashtag #GameChangers and be sure to follow the Northern Ireland U19 team as they continue on their development!

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