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Emma Magee: I probably had coronavirus and was furloughed from work but I'm still counting my blessings



Emma Magee

Emma Magee

Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Michelle and Emma (right) Magee

Michelle and Emma (right) Magee


Emma Magee

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we talk to netball star Emma Magee, who shone for Northern Ireland at last year's World Cup and also plays inter-county Gaelic football for Antrim. The 22-year-old has been working at the prestigious Sedbergh School in Cumbria as a resident gap graduate.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I'm keeping really well, active and healthy at the minute and taking each day as it comes. Back in March, however, I was sent home from work to self-isolate with some of the symptoms of coronavirus and, although not tested, I believe I probably had it. I was in bed for the best part of two weeks.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: I was due to go to Kenya with Sedbergh for a week and then had a three-week trip planned to Australia with my younger sister (fellow NI netballer) Michelle to see our older sister Kerry. I'd also been shortlisted for the Belfast Sports Awards. Unfortunately, these things were all cancelled and I had to return to Belfast from England after being furloughed from work. Life at home with my family has been amazing, though. I've been blessed with a big back garden and good company so I can't really ask for any more.

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Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: I'm lucky enough to have my team-mate as my sister; therefore it is safe to say our back garden has turned into a netball court/Gaelic field and gym with the competition being as fierce as ever. I wish Michelle was social distancing from me at times! We're fortunate to live beside the Mary Peters Track, which we have been using a lot. The track is great for our conditioning and speed work as well as netball drills.


Michelle and Emma (right) Magee

Michelle and Emma (right) Magee

Michelle and Emma (right) Magee


Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?

A: Things are very different to this time last year, when I was so busy doing my university finals over in Newcastle and training hard for the Netball World Cup and the Antrim Gaelic team's Championship campaign. The World Cup was a great experience so I'm thankful this didn't happen last summer and take that away from me after all the hard work and anticipation. However, our team morale is almost built upon our aspirations and desire to succeed in upcoming competitions, so with the whole uncertainty it is difficult to maintain. We're all ticking over by following our programmes which is reassuring and gives us a sense of achievement. We can see each other's scores with the app we're using which keeps the competitive nature alive. The team are also starting group Pilates on Zoom which should be exciting and fun and will allow us to all remain connected with one another.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I think my own strength is being drawn from my love of sport. It's the enjoyment that I get from training and exercising that has motivated me to keep doing what I am doing regardless of the current situation. My mental strength has also helped me throughout these times. I have been very consistent with writing down targets and goals each day or even just things I am grateful for and looking to the positives. Don't get me wrong, some days can be tough where I struggle to find motivation, but my family have had a massive influence during this pandemic too.

The Magees are a very sporting family and my mum, dad, brother and sister have also been a huge part of my lockdown experience, whether it's just kicking the ball about in the garden, going out for a bike ride or having table tennis competitions in the garden.

Q: Is there a book, film or box set you think stay at home sports fans might like?

A: I'm currently reading Michelle Obama's book 'Becoming' and really enjoying it. I just finished a book called 'Bounce - The myth of talent and the power of practice' which is an amazing read based around practice in sport.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: I think the main life lesson I've taken from all of this is to appreciate everything. I am so grateful that I have my health, family and am still able to do the things I love even with a few restrictions. It has taught me that there is more than one way to do something.

One of my favourite quotes which I first saw in the Home of Hope in Zambia that I've visited is 'Do what you can, with what you have, where you are'. I feel like this applies to everyone more than ever now.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when this is over?

A: Well, depending on lockdown measures, if allowed I will go see my granny and give her a big hug. But I just can't wait to be reunited with all my team-mates and just getting stuck into training again.

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: Keep doing what you love and enjoy being creative in the different ways of training whether that's developing your mental strength or physical strength. Keep setting goals, remember to celebrate any victory no matter how small and we'll all be back together eventually.

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