Scot soccer star Savannah shines for Travellers in Irish sport
2017-12-01 16:57:00 -
Sports
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As the title of the old Scottish ballad goes, Glasgow really makes you feel at home. 

 

Kerry native Savannah McCarthy has experienced this famed hospitality first-hand, as she’s made a big impact on the Scottish soccer scene since she arrived in 2016 after signing with Glasgow City FC.

 

Having just won the Scottish Women’s League for the 11th time, the club values the defender – one of four women from the Republic of Ireland on their squad – very highly.

 

The 20-year-old brings a wealth of experience, having started playing competitively at the age of seven with Listowel Celtic, then progressing through the ranks of Galway Women’s Football and UCD Waves FC – not to mention being honoured with the captaincy of Republic of Ireland national teams at every underage level. 

 

Coming from the Kingdom, it was only natural that the keen sportswoman would also play Gaelic football. Savannah represented her county at minor level before making up her mind to play the ‘beautiful game’ as a full-time professional.

 

Savannah’s qualities not only as a player, but also a leader, were recognised in 2013 when she won the Traveller Pride Award for Sport, along with the Irish Times/Sport Ireland award for the month of April 2014. 

 

Savannah has become a role model for her Traveller peers, male and female alike. And the high profile she now holds in her sport is one that can be built on by Traveller organisations including the Irish Traveller Movement and Pavee Point – the latter of which is working with Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) in promoting and facilitating active engagement in sport among young Travellers. 

 

More exposure for the achievements of Traveller and Roma sportspeople will go a long way towards building confidence in youngsters who are marginalised, victimised and suffer constant racist abuse, says Sari’s international and education officer Ken McCue. 

 

He adds that it was encouraging to hear former world champion boxer Andy Lee state recently that Travellers “are fighting for human rights from the time they are born” in a speech while presenting the 2017 Traveller Pride Award for Sport to all-Ireland boxing champion Patrick Mongan.

 

Meanwhile, Savannah McCarthy’s story will be the subject of a forthcoming documentary film. According to Jack McAuliffe, a researcher on the Kerry-based project, the film will be a powerful statement on the pride that the people of Kerry have in this daughter of the Kingdom, as well as a recognition of the role of the Traveller community in the development of sport in their county.



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