Ireland captain Katie Mullan has urged businesses around the country to consider employing international players to allow them to combine sport and work as they prepare for the Olympic qualifying campaign, writes John Flack.
Mullan believes the relationship would be mutually beneficial if companies could be sympathetic to the huge commitment that will be involved.
In the build-up to the World Cup, for example, many of the Irish players, who were in full-time employment, had to take around 50 days off work to fulfil their commitments. The national team played more than 20 matches ahead of the London showpiece, several of which took place outside Ireland, with trips to Spain and Germany.
Some of the players had to take unpaid leave or go part-time to be able to commit fully to the preparations while others took career breaks and gave up work completely.
@IreWomenHockey captain @katiemullan11 “I think all the girls have learned valuable skills and developed valuable skills thought our sporting journey that could be very very useful in a lot of business environments.” #sportintobusiness pic.twitter.com/VkkKNDIyxX
— Sport NI (@SportNINet) November 14, 2018
Mullan is a case in point as she is now playing most of her hockey in Germany, having put her career on hold after graduating from UCD. She is however back home for a few weeks while the German season moves indoors and is eligible to play for Ballymoney, for whom she scored twice in last week’s win over Lisnagarvey.
The 24-year-old, who has been appointed as a Sport Northern Ireland ‘Sport into Business’ ambassador, is currently unable to fully commit to a first job with so much hockey ahead in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The Coleraine woman said: “As regards the Ireland captaincy, I’m just the lucky one who gets to wear the armband and it’s such a team effort.
“There is such an incredible leadership group and a vast amount of experience in the squad and we work really well together. I think that all of the girls have learned and developed valuable skills through our sporting journey that could be very, very useful in a lot of business environments.”
“They might not be there for the same number of hours as other staff but if you employ any of the girls in our squad, they would give you 110% in every minute that they were there. I just hope that employers can see the value that we could add to their business and get behind it.
“It’s about being able to find the balance where we’re in a position in our in our career that allows us to achieve to the best of our ability both in the sports field and in our jobs.”